Warning: This story contains graphic content which may disturb some readers.

Wayne Couzens, the former policeman responsible for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of 33-year-old English woman Sarah Everard has been sentenced to life behind bars, with no chance of parole. Lord Justice Fulford handed down a whole life order, the most severe sentence in the UK, on Thursday, describing Everard’s murder as “devastating” and “tragic”, and Everard herself as an “intelligent, resourceful, talented and much-loved young woman”.

Lord Fulford said, “First and foremost, Sarah Everard was a wholly blameless victim of a grotesquely executed series of offences that culminated in her death and the disposal of her body.”

Lord Fulford went on to Couzens’ actions in kidnapping Sarah, by using his position as a police officer to provide him with a pretext for stopping and questioning her. “I have not the slightest doubt that the defendant used his position as a police officer to coerce her on a wholly false pretext into the car he had hired for this purpose. It is most likely that he suggested to Sarah Everard that she had breached the restrictions on movement that were being enforced during that stage of the pandemic.”

Sarah was walking home from a friend’s house in south London on March 3 when Couzens pulled over his rental vehicle and stopped her. Couzens then falsely arrested her for breaching COVID-19 restrictions and handcuffed her before putting her in the car.

Couzens proceeded to rape and strangle Sarah before burning her body and clothes in an old refrigerator on land he owned before dumping her body. She was found in Ashford, Kent, roughly 100km south-east of London, a week later, following a dedicated search.

Sarah’s family released a statement following the sentencing, saying, “We are very pleased that Wayne Couzens has received a full life sentence and will spend the rest of his life in jail. Couzens held a position of trust as a police officer and we are outraged and sickened that he abused this trust in order to lure Sarah to her death. The world is a safer place with him imprisoned.”

Her family had previously shared victim impact statements with the court, with Sarah’s mother Susan, expressing profound grief, saying, “Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I am tormented at the thought of what she endured. In her last hours she was faced with brutality and terror, alone with someone intent on doing her harm. The thought of it is unbearable – I am haunted by the horror of it.”

Sarah’s father Jeremy said he would never forgive Couzens for what he did to her. “The horrendous murder of my daughter, Sarah, is in my mind all the time and will be for the rest of my life. Sarah was handcuffed and unable to defend herself. This preys on my mind all the time. I can never forgive you for what you have done, for taking Sarah away from us.”

In handing down the sentence, Lord Fulford said of Couzens, “Notwithstanding your guilty pleas, therefore, I have seen no evidence of genuine contrition on your part as opposed to evident self-pity and attempts by you to avoid or minimize the proper consequences of what you have done.”

Image: Metropolitan Police

This article first appeared on Over60.