Sarah Everard’s killer to die behind bars as police probe ‘more crimes’

The ex-Pc, 48, was handed a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

Lord Justice Fulford told Wayne Couzens his 'warped, selfish and brutal' offences had eroded confidence in the police. Metropolitan Police via Family handout
Lord Justice Fulford told Wayne Couzens his 'warped, selfish and brutal' offences had eroded confidence in the police.

Wayne Couzens will die behind bars after kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard – as police investigate whether he is responsible for any further crimes.

The ex-Pc, 48, was handed a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey on Thursday by Lord Justice Fulford, who said his “warped, selfish and brutal” offences had eroded confidence in the police.

The judge said he had been planning for at least a month before abducting Everard, 33, as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

Metropolitan Police firearms officer Couzens, who had been “hunting” for a victim, used his warrant card and handcuffs to snatch the marketing executive off the street using Covid lockdown rules to make a false arrest.

ADVERT

Lord Justice Fulford said the case in which a serving officer abused his position was so exceptional it warranted a whole life order, meaning Couzens will never be freed.

It is the first time the sentence has been imposed for a single murder of an adult not committed in the course of a terror attack.

“The misuse of a police officer’s role such as occurred in this case in order to kidnap, rape and murder a lone victim is of equal seriousness as a murder for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause,” said the judge.

Couzens was said in court to have been “attracted to brutal sexual pornography” as far back as 2002.

ADVERT

The police watchdog previously said he was linked to a flashing incident in 2015 and two more days before he killed Everard.

At a briefing at Scotland Yard following the sentencing, Assistant Met Commissioner Nick Ephgrave told reporters one of the indecent exposure incidents at a McDonald’s restaurant in Swanley was reported just 72 hours before the abduction.

Couzens was not named but his car was reported to officers, who were said to have not yet completed the investigation.

DCI Katherine Goodwin said she was not aware of any more serious allegations, but said inquiries are ongoing into whether Couzens is responsible for any other crimes.

“Thus far there is nothing of the nature or seriousness of the offences for which he has been put in prison today,” she said.

“I would like to reiterate, appeal if anyone has any information or any allegations about Wayne Couzens that they would come and speak to our team.”

Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Tom Winsor confirmed earlier on Thursday that Couzens was known as “the rapist” by other officers at times during his career because he “had a reputation in terms of drug abuse, extreme pornography and other offences of this kind”.

ADVERT

Home secretary Priti Patel said “serious questions” need to be answered by the force but backed Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, who is facing fresh calls to resign over the case, which sparked a national outcry and a debate over the safety of women.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey she said Couzens had brought “shame” on the Met, adding: “I am so sorry.”

The Met announced it will no longer deploy plain clothes officers on their own.

Couzens, who had been a member of the Kent Special Constabulary before moving to the Civil Nuclear Constabulary in 2011, joined the Met in September 2018, working for the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command and on uniformed Covid patrols.

He was sacked after a disciplinary hearing held behind closed doors after he pleaded guilty to Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder.

The married father-of-two, wearing a dark suit and black tie stood shaking slightly in the dock as he was sentenced and kept his head bowed as he shuffled out of court.

The judge told him: “You have eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police forces of England and Wales.

“It is critical that every subject in this country can trust police officers when they encounter them and submit to their authority, which they are entitled to believe is being exercised in good faith.

“You have utterly betrayed your family.

“Your wife and children, who on all the evidence are entirely blameless, will have to live with the ignominy of your dreadful crimes for the rest of their lives.

“You have very considerably added to the sense of insecurity that many have living in our cities, perhaps particularly women, when travelling by themselves and especially at night.”

Couzens did not lift his head to face his victim’s family, who on Wednesday had asked him to look at them as they read emotional victim impact statements.

Everard’s parents, Jeremy and Susan, clasped hands and hugged police officers after he was taken down to the cells.

In a statement, they and Everard’s brother James and sister Katie, said they were pleased with the sentence.

“Nothing can make things better, nothing can bring Sarah back, but knowing he will be imprisoned forever brings some relief,” they said.

“Sarah lost her life needlessly and cruelly and all the years of life she had yet to enjoy were stolen from her.

“Wayne 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.”

The judge described Everard as “a wholly blameless victim of a grotesquely executed series of offences that culminated in her death and the disposal of her body”.

Couzens had worked a 12-hour shift at the US embassy before kidnapping Everard in a rented Vauxhall Crossland.

“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,” Lord Justice Fulford said.

Couzens drove his restrained victim 80 miles before raping his victim, strangling her to death with his police belt and burning her body.

Everard, who lived in Brixton, south London, may have been alive for up to five hours before she was strangled to death, the court heard.

Couzens then burned her body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland he owned in Hoads Wood, near Ashford, before dumping the remains in a nearby pond.

The judge said her state of mind in her final hours “would have been as bleak and agonising as it is possible to imagine”.

Couzens would have needed to apply pressure to her neck for more than two minutes to kill her, the judge said.

He described how Couzens acted “entirely as normal” following the murder, carrying out “prosaic” tasks, including booking dental appointments for his children and calling the vet about his dog Maddie over “separation anxiety”.

Couzens even took his family for a day out to the site where he had disposed of Ms Everard’s body, letting his children play nearby.

He was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, after police connected him to a hire car he used to abduct Ms Everard, whose remains were found by police dogs on March 10.


Time is running out to avoid rail strikes during COP26, union warns

With world leaders heading to Scotland for the crucial talks, members of the RMT union are threatening to strike.

wcjohnston via IStock
Rail: Could be facing strike action during COP26.

Transport bosses have been told they need to “put pay justice on the agenda” if they want to prevent rail strikes during the global COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

With world leaders heading to Scotland for the crucial talks, members of the RMT union are threatening to strike for the duration of the summit.

Other unions have accepted the deal on the table, but Scotland’s transport minister Graeme Dey has warned he is “not optimistic” of a resolution being reached with the RMT ahead of the deadline set for 5pm on Wednesday.

Dey is already facing calls to quit if a deal cannot be reached to prevent the strike during COP26 – which is set to bring some 30,000 people to Glasgow.

ADVERT

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Time is running out to get a fair deal for Scotland’s rail workers and avoid a shutdown during COP26.

“We stand ready to get back round the table right now but the political leadership in Scotland need to lift their arbitrary deadlines and clear the road blocks to getting those talks back on.

“The ball is in the SNP’s court. They need to take responsibility for bringing us to this point and get into a dialogue with the union that puts pay justice on the agenda. We are waiting.”

David Simpson, ScotRail operations director, said he is still “hopeful” that the RMT will reconsider its position and accept the deal for a 4.7% increase over two years.

ADVERT

That offer has already been accepted by the three other unions representing rail workers, Aslef, Unite and the TSSA.

The 5pm deadline has been set to give ScotRail time to plan for services during the summit, which gets under way on Sunday and runs through to November 12

Mr Simpson told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday that “many” RMT members would like to accept the deal, adding: “We don’t understand why RMT won’t put this offer to their members to give them a say.”

After 5pm on Wednesday, he said the offer will be “off the table”, explaining: “The reason for the deadline is we need to be able to prepare for what service we operate next week.

“We are working in the background on some contingency planning to see what we can run in the event of a strike to connect Glasgow and Edinburgh and serve the routes through the COP26 summit.

“We’ve made very clear this is a significant deal but at 5pm tonight it is off the table and we will have to sadly prepare for industrial action.”

That would see ScotRail focus efforts on running services between Scotland’s two largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as the low level service to the Scottish Events Campus where the summit is taking place.

ADVERT

Mr Simpson said: “We absolutely urge RMT to accept this deal, it is a good deal, at least put it to their members and pause the strike action while they do that, or it comes off the table at 5pm tonight.”

More on:

Who’s in charge as Glasgow becomes UN territory at COP26?

Everything you need to know about the law, policing and security during the crunch climate summit.

STV News
Police Scotland officers can only enter the blue zone with UN agreement.

The COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow is being hosted by the United Nations, which means the venue will come under its control.

The summit will take place across two sites – the ‘blue zone’ at the Scottish Event Campus and the ‘green zone’ at Glasgow Science Centre.

STV News

The blue zone is a UN-managed space that hosts the negotiations, bringing together delegations from 197 countries. It will become an international territory, however Police Scotland said it would be subject to Scots law.

The UN will have administrative control of the Scottish Events Campus and will be responsible for security during COP26. While it will be supported by Police Scotland, the UN will remain in charge of all security in the blue zone.

STV News
Police mounted units have been training for COP26.
ADVERT

Police Scotland may only enter with the consent of the UN secretary general, a standard arrangement for such conferences.

‘Complete freedom of expression’

UN officials, representatives and experts all have immunity from legal process – including prosecution (diplomatic immunity) – inside the blue zone.

Natasha Durkin, a senior associate in Shepherd and Wedderburn’s regulation and markets team, told STV News: “It is a foundational principle of the UN that its property is ‘inviolable’, meaning that UN property is immune from any legal interference wherever it is situated.

ADVERT

“The main reason for this is to allow the UN full control of its international functions and activities without interference, and reflects the immunities UN personnel have from legal process.

“One important aspect of the blue zone is that it allows the UN to guarantee complete freedom of speech to those participating in UN meetings, regardless of the (possibly restrictive) laws applying in the host state.

“Complete freedom of expression for participants is agreed in Article 2 of the COP26 agreement.”

Year of planning

Police Scotland has been planning and preparing for over a year, alongside the United Nations, UK Government and Glasgow City Council.

Assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins said: “We have engaged with the United Nations and this is common practice for UN conferences.

“In consultation with a range of partners, our policing plan takes into account all factors to ensure an appropriate response will be delivered.” 

STV News
Police carry out a training exercise on the ‘Squinty Bridge’ in Glasgow.
ADVERT

All attendees within the blue zone must be accredited by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Ms Durkin said: “Consistent with having full control of the blue zone, the UN is ‘in charge’.

“However, the COP26 agreement (and again, as is standard) requires the UN to cooperate with UK authorities to ensure the proper administration of justice and to prevent any abuse of the blue zone. 

“In addition to the UN being required to cooperate with the UK in relation to the administration of justice, and to prevent abuse, the secretary general of the UN can waive any immunity applying to the blue zone. 

“As such, if an offence is committed, there are mechanisms for both cooperation between the UK and UN, and the possibility of waiver of immunity. The disposal of an alleged offence committed in the blue zone would ultimately depend on circumstances.”

So what is the green zone?

The green zone is managed by the UK Government and is a platform for the general public, youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, business and others to have their voices heard.

It will host events, exhibitions, workshops and talks promoting dialogue, awareness and education.

Normal domestic law applies there.

Extra staff to be drafted into Glasgow’s A&E during COP26 marches

Additional workers are also being put in place for mental health assessment units and the police custody service.

Ruben Pinto via IStock
A&E: Additional workers are also being put in place for mental health assessment units and the police custody service.

Extra staff are to be drafted into Glasgow’s accident and emergency wards during COP26 when two marches by climate activists are expected to cause a demand for treatment. 

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde report reveals a march on Saturday, November 6 has been licenced for up to 100,000 people, and adds it is “likely that the biggest demand for healthcare will be from activists”.

Additional workers are also being put in place for mental health assessment units and the police custody service.

The march on November 6 has been organised by the COP26 Coalition to demand “just and fair solutions to the climate crisis” and will go from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green.

ADVERT

It will be preceded by a school strike for climate justice on Friday, November 5, when Fridays for Future (FFF) Scotland — the Scottish branch of an international youth movement founded by Greta Thunberg — are set to march from Kelvingrove Park to George Square.

Climate campaigner Thunberg has confirmed she will take part in the march, which is expected to attract thousands of young protesters.

The report, to the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde board meeting on Tuesday, states information “from other COP conferences and the recent G7 summit is that there was a limited demand for hospital admission” during the events and “as such no specific provision has been made for additional inpatient capacity”.

However, it adds: “It is likely that the biggest demand for healthcare will be from activists who will be attending this event and the two activist marches on 5 and 6 of November.

ADVERT

“The march on November 6 has been licensed for up to 100,000 people. Additional staffing is being sought for the emergency departments.

“Additional staff are being put in place for the mental health assessment units and the police custody service. Facilities and procurement have reviewed delivery routes and stockholdings to ensure there is no impact on service delivery.”

A medical treatment centre, staffed by doctors and advanced paramedics, will be open on the SEC conference site. It aims to deal with “minor ailments and injuries on the site and to direct people to access community pharmacy for any medications required”.

Daily attendance at the conference is capped at 14,000 delegates a day due to social distancing requirements, which is equivalent to the capacity of the Hydro.

“By way of contrast the three main football stadiums have a daily capacity of over 50,000,” the report adds.

It pointed out: “Many delegates are not staying in hotels in Glasgow but will be travelling daily into the city.”

All GPs and some hospital managers have been sent postcode data of areas affected by the conference to plan and communicate to patients who might need access to hospital, such as pregnant women.

ADVERT

The November 6 march will take place on the conference’s global day of action, an event which has been held at every United Nations climate conference since 2005, with demonstrations held across the world.

FFF Scotland are also a co-organiser for that march, alongside groups including the Scottish Trade Unions Congress and Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Thunberg started FFF in August 2018 when she began a school strike to demand action on the climate crisis. She has since been joined by young people across the world.

COP26 will run from October 31 to November 12, with world leaders expected to arrive for crucial talks at the SEC.

By local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands

Study calls for more tutoring to close school attainment gap

Research by the Poverty Alliance found free tutoring provision for children and young people in Scotland was 'sparse'.

Hispanolistic via IStock
Report: High-quality tutoring could significantly reduce educational inequalities.

More tutoring and mentoring of pupils should be used in Scotland to help close the attainment gap, a study says.

Research by the Poverty Alliance found free tutoring provision for children and young people in Scotland was “sparse”.

The report, released on Wednesday, said high-quality tutoring could significantly reduce educational inequalities.

In February the Scottish Government announced a £45m fund for educational recovery, however the report said there was no published information on how much of this went towards catch-up tutoring programmes.

ADVERT

The Poverty Alliance’s research also found there were geographical gaps in the provision of mentoring for children in poverty.

Dr Laura Robertson, lead author of the report, said: “The Scottish Government has put tackling the poverty-based attainment gap at the heart of its agenda. However, inequalities in education attainment remain stark.

“Covid-19 has not only tightened the grip of poverty on the lives of many children and young people, but has also exacerbated these inequalities.

“Now, more than ever, children and young people need access to additional support.

ADVERT

“This report reveals that – despite the evidence that it works – young people living in poverty still don’t have equal access to high-quality tutoring free of charge.

“In a just society, all children and young people should have access to support that allows them to reach their potential, so the Scottish Government must – if it wants to end the attainment gap – respond with action.”


Inquest set to open into death of MP Sir David Amess

The MP was stabbed to death in Essex on October 15.

UK Parliament via Website
David Amess: Attacked at constituency surgery.

An inquest into the death of MP Sir David Amess, who was stabbed to death during a constituency surgery at a church, is due to be opened and adjourned.

Sir David, 69, was attacked at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex on October 15.

The father-of-five was pronounced dead at the scene at 1.10pm and a preliminary postmortem examination report gave the cause of death as multiple stab wounds to the chest.

An inquest into the death of the Conservative MP for Southend West is due to be opened and adjourned at County Hall in Chelmsford on Wednesday.

ADVERT

A 25-year-old man is charged with the terrorist murder of Sir David.

Ali Harbi Ali appeared before the Old Bailey last Friday, where he was not asked to enter pleas to charges of murder and preparing acts of terrorism between May 1 2019 and September this year.

He faces a trial in March next year.


Man left with ‘life changing injuries’ after car collides with bus

The incident took place on the A8 when a car crashed into a double decker bus.

Malcolm Fife via Getty Images
Ambulance: Man left seriously injured.

A man has been left with potential life-changing injuries after a car crashed into a double-decker bus in Glasgow.

The 52-year-old was driving a blue BMW 3 Series when the crash took place on the A8’s Maybury junction, near the Marriot Hotel, at around 6.50pm on Tuesday.

The car was driving east when it crashed into the passenger bus on the other side of the road.

Emergency services attended and he was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where medical staff have described his injuries as serious and say they are “potentially life changing”.

ADVERT

The 44-year-old bus driver, and one of the six passengers who were onboard, also suffered minor injuries.

Police are now appealing for witnesses.

Inspector Roger Park, of the Road Policing Unit, said: “We’re appealing to anyone who witnessed this collision or has dash cam footage to contact us.

“Those with information should contact Police Scotland on 101.”


Forbes calls on Sunak to reinstate universal credit uplift in Budget

Finance secretary wants chancellor to help Scots facing ‘real cost of living crisis’.

georgeclerk via IStock
Rishi Sunak will deliver his second Budget of the year on Wednesday.

Scots are facing a “real cost of living crisis”, finance secretary Kate Forbes has said, as she urged the chancellor to reinstate the £20 a week recently removed from Universal Credit.

Forbes made the plea ahead of Rishi Sunak delivering his second Budget of the year to the Commons on Wednesday.

In a letter to the chancellor, she called on him to use the keynote address to “provide certainty to the wider public sector, boost the economy and support our most vulnerable at this challenging time”.

Forbes, who will set out the Scottish Government’s draft budget for next year in December, stressed that ministers at Holyrood were “strongly opposed to any return to austerity”.

ADVERT

The finance secretary appealed to the chancellor to re-think the Government’s recent decision to end the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.

She told Sunak: “A real cost of living crisis is emerging as a result of this cut, combined with the escalating energy costs and upcoming rise in National Insurance contributions.

“The Universal Credit cut alone will push an extra 60,000 people in Scotland, including 20,000 children, into poverty and hundreds of thousands more into hardship, whilst also reducing social security expenditure in Scotland by £461m by 2023-24.”

She insisted it was not justifiable for UK ministers to introduce these “cuts to individual income”.

ADVERT

Instead, she said, the Budget should “prioritise spending that supports the financial security of low-income households, the well-being of children and young people, and delivers good, green jobs and fair work”.

With the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow getting under way in just a few days, she added that “significant investment is required from the UK Government in reserved areas” to help ensure that Scotland meets its emissions targets.

And here Forbes urged the chancellor to match the £500m the Scottish Government has pledged to spend over 10 years to help the north-east of Scotland transition away from oil and gas.

The finance secretary told Sunak: “Given the UK Treasury has, over decades, benefited from billions of pounds of revenue from activity in the North Sea, I ask that you at least match our commitment to help secure jobs in the north-east of Scotland, support the energy transition, and reduce emissions.”

Scottish Labour finance spokesman Daniel Johnson also demanded the Chancellor use his Budget to deal with the “cost of living crisis” many are facing “due to spiralling prices and the damage done by callous Tory cuts”.

Johnson said: “The pandemic has shaken our economy to the core and if we do not act now to put fairness at the heart of our recovery, thousands of people will be thrown into hardship this winter.

“This Budget must deliver real and tangible support for those struggling to make ends meet.

ADVERT

“The Tory government must wake up to the cost of living crisis unfolding due to their disastrous governance and act now.”

Sunak, meanwhile, is expected to announce details of a new £150m fund aimed at helping smaller businesses in Scotland.

The fund, to be delivered through the British Business Bank, will be similar to existing schemes in England and Northern Ireland, which have provided investment and loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Sunak said it would show the UK Government was “continuing to support businesses across the UK”.

More on:

£2.2m campaign launched to double size of new nature reserve

The Langholm Initiative charity hopes to buy 5300 acres of Langholm Moor and three residential properties.

The Langholm Initiative/Tom Hutton via PA Media
An initial crowdfunder on Go Fund Me aims to raise at least £150,000.

A £2.2m fundraising campaign has been launched to double the size of a nature reserve in Dumfries and Galloway.

The Langholm Initiative charity created the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve after raising £3.8m to buy 5200 acres of land and six residential properties.

The campaign was launched last year and the group took ownership of the land in March.

It now hopes to buy 5300 acres of Langholm Moor and three residential properties from Buccleuch Estates.

ADVERT

This would increase the size of the nature reserve to 10,500 acres.

The community said it needs to raise the funds by May 2022 as the offer from Buccleuch is time limited.

An initial crowdfunder on Go Fund Me aims to raise at least £150,000.

Applications will also be made to grant-funding bodies and a private donor has already pledged £500,000.

ADVERT

Jenny Barlow, the reserve’s estate manager, said: “We’re aiming to repeat the impossible and open a new chapter in this inspiring story of hope and community by doubling the size of Tarras Valley Nature Reserve – and so doubling the benefits for people, nature and climate.

“We need all the help we can get to achieve a big win for wildlife, climate action and community regeneration – and a legacy for future generations.

“Scotland is one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries and it desperately needs projects like this.”

She added that if the land goes onto the open market there is a risk it “will be bought by corporate investment firms, which are currently banking large amounts of land in the area”.

Benny Higgins, Buccleuch’s executive chairman, said: “We were delighted that The Langholm Initiative was able to purchase the initial area from Buccleuch last year, having shown such tenacity and vision.

“Having reached agreement on timeline and value, we wish them every success with this next exciting phase, both for the initiative and the community.”

Langholm said the land is home to wildlife such as black grouse, short-eared owls and merlin, and is a stronghold for hen harriers.


Man seriously injured after being attacked on city street

The 29-year-old suffered a serious neck injury in the attack.

Ilbusca via IStock
Ambulance: The man was taken to the Royal Infirmary.

A man has been left seriously injured after being attacked on a Glasgow street in brad daylight.

The 29-year-old suffered a neck injury in the incident that took place on Burnhouse Street at Collina Quadrant in Maryhill at around 1.30pm on Saturday.

Emergency services attended the scene and the man was taken to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary where his injuries have been described as serious.

Police are now appealing for witnesses as they look to trace the person responsible.

ADVERT

Detective Constable Katrina Keogh said: “I am appealing for information from the public to help with our investigation. I would ask anyone with dash-cam footage or any witnesses to come forward.

”Anyone with information can contact Police Scotland on 101.


You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?