Wayne Couzens (48 years), the policeman who kidnapped deceitfully on the streets of London, raped and murdered Sarah Everard (33 years), he will die in jail. The permanent prison sentence was beyond question, after Couzens admitted to being guilty of a crime that shocked British society in an extreme way. The judge of the Central Criminal Court of England, Adrian Fulford, who issued the sentence this Thursday, has justified in the “exceptional gravity” of such a “grotesque” crime his decision that life imprisonment is completely irrevocable. “The twisted use of the status of police officer to kidnap, rape and murder a lonely victim is as serious as murder in the name of a political, ideological or religious cause,” the judge said in an extreme decision that in few occasions (61 cases since 1983) has been applied in British criminal justice.
Sarah Everard’s parents were finally able to confront their daughter’s killer last Wednesday, the last day of the trial. Jeremy Everard, the father of the murdered executive, repeatedly demanded that Couzens look him in the face, while explaining how the crime had destroyed the lives of that family. For just a second, the ex-cop dared to raise his head, to bow it again and fix his gaze on the ground. “The impact of what you have done will never end. The only wish of a father is to take care of his children, so that all is well. You have deliberately prevented me from having that capacity, ”Sarah’s father reproached the murderer.
Upon hearing the sentence, the family issued a public statement in which ensures that “know that spending his entire life in prison is some relief. (…) The world is a little safer since he’s been in jail. ”
Sarah Everard was born and raised in York, in the north of England, but like many others she opted for the London adventure. The executive, of 33, left a friend’s house on the night of the past 3 March, in the Clapham neighborhood, south of the city, to return to Brixton Hill, where he lived. Before he called his partner, to let him know that he was already going out. The last image of her was recorded by the security camera of a subway station. He was wearing his green raincoat and his mask on. After a harrowing week in which Everard’s face circulated on television, newspapers and social networks, the Metropolitan Police named one of its agents, Couzens, as the main suspect in his kidnapping and murder.
At 21.30 of the night (22. 30, peninsular time in Spain), the agent, who according to the investigation was loitering in his vehicle through the streets of the area in search of prey, noticed Sarah. He falsely accused her of having broken the rules of confinement, showed her her police identification – as it could be seen in the security cameras in the area -, handcuffed her and put her in the back of the car. He drove to Dover, for almost two hours, and there he changed vehicles. In Deal, a nearby rural area, he raped the woman, in torture that lasted, according to police, for at least five hours. Couzens carried his body to a wooded area in Ashford, Kent, and returned up to three times over the next four days to burn the body and dump the remains in a nearby swamp.
The pressure Citizen accelerated the investigation, which was greatly helped by the multitude of security cameras that are deployed throughout London. Couzens’ footsteps during those days were well documented. His first version before investigators, in which he wove a web of lies to ensure that he had debts with the Romanian mafia and chose to hand over the girl as a pledge, immediately fell apart. It did not take long for him to confess his guilt.
In the days after the police investigation began, the authorities committed the clumsiness of going door to door in the town of Kent and asking the women to do not go out alone. Hundreds of them, on social networks and in the media, began to relate their personal experiences and their fears, until they turned the outrage into a call for protest, the 13 of March. It was a planned vigil in the Clapham neighborhood, under the slogan # ReclaimTheseStreets (Claim these streets). Although the organizing organizations paid attention to the authorities – in the middle of a confinement with strict measures of social distance – and canceled the act, hundreds of men and women challenged the police and went to the Clapham Common park kiosk, to lay flowers in memory by Everard. Among them, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
As the night wore on, the tension between protesters and officers increased. “Shame on you”, “the police did not protect her” or “arrest yours”, shouted a few dozen protesters in front of the police who were determined to prevent someone from breaking through the security tape that surrounded the kiosk. At the last minute, violent clashes broke out between the officers and some of the women surrounding the makeshift shrine. Four of them were arrested, but what sparked the outrage was the image, which immediately ran through the nets, of some of them being pushed to the ground while being handcuffed.
In the following days Thousands of women across the UK took to the streets to demand legal change. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has assured, through his official Twitter account, that “no woman should be afraid of possible harassment or violence. We will do everything possible to prevent these heinous crimes. ” The Labor leader, Keir Starmer, has once again demanded a specific law to stop violence against women, and has assured that the Conservative Government would already have the support of the opposition if it presents it.
3 / No woman should have to fear harassment or violence. We will do everything possible to prevent these abhorrent crimes and keep our communities safe.
– Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) September 30, 2021