Sarah Everard 'could still be with us' had police acted sooner, says York MP

Sarah Everard, from York, was kidnapped, raped and murdered by serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens in 2021. Credit: Family handout/PA/ITV Tyne Tees

The York MP has said Sarah Everard "could have been with us" had police acted sooner on reports of indecent exposure committed by Wayne Couzens before her murder.

Rachael Maskell told ITV Tyne Tees "we need to ensure that this never happens again" and urged people to give the former Durham University student's family "respect and time as they reflect on what this sentencing means for them".

She said: "Our heart just bleeds for Sarah's family today because we know that their girl, their daughter could have been with us had the police acted sooner."

It comes as Couzens was sentenced to 19 months in prison for three counts of indecent exposure, including flashing at a woman in the months before he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard.

The ex-Metropolitan Police officer was supposed to be on duty and working from home when he exposed himself to a female cyclist in a country lane in Kent in November 2020.

The Metropolitan Police have said they are 'sorry' they did not arrest Wayne Couzens sooner Credit: Met Police

In March 2021, he lured Ms Everard into his car, falsely accusing her of breaking Covid-19 lockdown rules.

The marketing executive's body was later found in woodland in Kent.

Couzens was handed a whole life order for the murder of Ms Everard and appeared today at the Old Bailey in London via video link from HMP Frankland, Durham.

Mrs Justice May, sentencing, said police officers' missed opportunities to question Couzens about the incidents of indecent exposure emboldened him to go on and commit further crimes.

She said: "It can only have served to confirm and strengthen in the defendant's mind, a dangerous belief in his invincibility in his power sexually to dominate and abuse women without being stopped."

  • Video report by Gregg Easteal

The Metropolitan Police's deputy assistant commissioner Stuart Cundy said: "Today’s sentencing reflects the impact these awful crimes committed by Couzens has had on the women he targeted.

"I have read the victim impact statements and it is clear to me the hurt and trauma that he inflicted on them.

"It is their courage that has been crucial in bringing him to justice and I am sorry for what they have gone through.

"Like so many, I wish he had been arrested for these offences before he went on to kidnap, rape and murder Sarah Everard and I am sorry that he wasn’t."

The Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy tweeted after the sentencing today to say she hoped "lessons have been learned".

She said: "This sentence does nothing to cover for the amount of failings of the Met when it comes to Wayne Couzens and his disturbing behaviour prior to the horrendous murder of Sarah Everard."

An independent inquiry into whether police could have stopped Couzens before he murdered Ms Everard is being set up.

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