Sarah Everard's mother tells Couzens sentencing she is 'haunted' by 'horror' of her daughter's death

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ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry reports on how Couzens exploited his power to falsely arrest Sarah Everard

Sarah Everard's mother has said she is "haunted" by the "horror" of her daughter's death and said former police officer Wayne Couzens treated her daughter "as if she was nothing".

The 33-year-old's parents gave harrowing impact statements as the court heard how Couzens, then a serving Metropolitan Police officer, kidnapped, raped and murdered Ms Everard after falsely arresting her.

Couzens used his handcuffs and warrant card to take Ms Everard, having falsely accused her of breaking Covid lockdown rules.

Ms Everard had been walking home after visiting a friend in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3, 2021.

Sarah Everard. Credit: PA

In her impact statement to the court, Susan Everard said: "Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I am tormented at the thought of what she endured.

"I play it out in my mind. I go through the terrible sequence of events. I wonder when she realised she was in mortal danger; I wonder what her murderer said to her.

"When he strangled her, for how long was she conscious, knowing she would die? It is torture to think of it."

Susan Everard said she was "incandescent with rage" at what he had done, saying he disposed of her daughter "as if she was rubbish".

She added: "I am outraged that he masqueraded as a policeman in order to get what he wanted."

CCTV of Sarah Everard on the night of her disappearance Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Couzens, 48, had finished a 12-hour shift for the Met Police before he snatched Ms Everard.

A week after she disappeared, her remains were found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just metres from land owned by Couzens.

On Wednesday in court, Susan Everard said: "There is no comfort to be had, there is no consoling thought in the way Sarah died. 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 Everard Credit: Family handout/PA

The 33-year-old's father also addressed the court, asking that Couzens face him while he was speaking.

Jeremy Everard said: "Sarah was handcuffed and unable to defend herself. This preys on my mind all the time.

"You murdered our daughter and forever broke the hearts of her mother, father, brother, sister, family and her friends.

"I can never forgive you for what you have done, for taking Sarah away from us."

Sarah's sister, Katie Everard, also spoke in court on Wednesday - she too asking that Couzens face her as she did so.

Dashcam footage from drivers passing by show Couzens falsely arrested Sarah Everard

Weeping as she read her statement, she said: "You used your warrant card to trick my sister into your car. She sat in a car handcuffed for hours.

"What could she have thought she had done wrong? What lies did you tell her? When did she realise that she wasn’t going to survive the night?

"My only hope is that she was in a state of shock and that she wasn’t aware of the disgusting things being done to her by a monster. When you forced yourself upon her and raped her."

ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry was in court for the first day of sentencing, reporting on the events.

Day one of sentencing: What's been shared in court

Details of the night of her disappearance have been shared with a court at Couzens' two-day sentencing on Wednesday. In July Couzens pleaded guilty to Ms Everard's murder, kidnap and rape.

At the start of his sentencing, Couzens sat in the dock with his head bowed as prosecutor Tom Little QC opened the case, watched by Ms Everard’s family.

Mr Little said the disappearance of Ms Everard was one of the most widely publicised missing person investigations the country has ever seen.

Wayne Couzens pled guilty to Sarah Everard's murder in July.

After her body was discovered in woodland, it became summarised by the hashtag "she was just walking home", he said.

But that did not completely describe what happened to Ms Everard, the court heard.

Mr Little said: "Whilst it is impossible to summarise what the defendant did to Sarah Everard in just five words, if it had to be done then it would be more appropriate to do so as deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire."

Ms Everard was described by a former long-term boyfriend as "extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise" and "not a gullible person", the court heard.

CCTV of Couzens being questioned by Met Police on March 9 - when he lied saying he "didn't know" where Ms Everard was Credit: PA/Met Police

He said he could not envisage her getting into a car with someone she did not know “unless by force or manipulation”, the prosecutor said.

Mr Little added: “The fact she had been to a friend’s house for dinner at the height of the early 2021 lockdown made her more vulnerable to and more likely to submit to an accusation that she had acted in breach of the Covid regulations in some way.”

Couzens worked on Covid patrols in late January this year, enforcing coronavirus regulations, so would have known what language to use to those who may have breached them.

He was said to be wearing his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray holder, when he kidnapped Ms Everard.

Footage from that night shows Couzens falsely arresting Sarah Everard on her walk home

'His movements were consistent with the defendant looking for, or hunting, for a lone young female to kidnap and rape '

The court heard how the officer planned in advance by booking a hire car for between 5pm on March 3 to 9.30am the next day.

Mr Little said there was "no credible alternative explanation for his need to hire a car other than to use that car to kidnap and rape a lone woman".

"His movements were consistent with the defendant looking for, or hunting, for a lone young female to kidnap and rape, which is precisely what he did," the prosecutor said.

CCTV footage showed Couzens raising his left arm holding a warrant card before handcuffing Ms Everard and putting her into the hire car.

The court heard Ms Everard’s kidnapping took less than five minutes.

She was handcuffed at about 9.34pm, detained in Couzens’ hire car by 9.37pm and they were on their way to Kent a minute later, Mr Little said.

The court heard the prosecution could not pinpoint the exact time Ms Everard was killed.

Mr Little said she must have been dead by around 2.30am when Couzens pulled into a Dover service station and bought drinks.

He visited Hoads Wood near Ashford twice during the early morning, leaving just before sunrise.

The court heard he was to return to the area later the following day two more times.

Mr Little added that Couzens even allowed his children to play in relatively close proximity to where Ms Everard’s body had been dumped in the pond.

Court artist sketch of prosecutor Tom Little QC speaking as former police officer Wayne Couzens sits in the dock at the Old Bailey. Credit: PA

Ahead of the start of the two-day sentencing, Scotland Yard released a statement which read: "We are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s crimes which betray everything we stand for.

"Our thoughts are with Sarah’s family and her many friends. It is not possible for us to imagine what they are going through.

"We recognise his actions raise many questions and concerns but we will not be commenting further until the hearing is complete."

Before handing down his sentence on Thursday, Lord Justice Fulford will consider a whole life order, which could mean Couzens may never be released from prison.