The police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard will spend the rest of his life in prison, a judge has decided today.

Wayne Couzens, who was a member of the Metropolitan Police at the time he committed the offences, was handed a whole-life prison sentence at the Old Bailey today.

Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive who lived in south London, was abducted by Couzens on the evening of March 3.

Over two days of sentencing proceedings this week, the court heard how 48-year-old Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch his victim in a fake arrest as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham.

The firearms officer had clocked off from a 12-hour shift at the American embassy that morning.

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.

Couzens was sacked from the force after he pleaded guilty in July to her kidnap, rape and murder.

Sentencing at the Old Bailey on Thursday, Lord Justice Fulford described the circumstances of the murder as “grotesque”.

He said the seriousness of the case was so “exceptionally high” that it warranted a whole life order.

He said: “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 ideological cause.”

He paid tribute to the dignity of Ms Everard’s family, whose statements in court revealed the human impact of Couzen’s “warped, selfish and brutal offending which was both sexual and homicidal”.

The murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens was “a truly evil thing to do”, Nick Price of the Crown Prosecution Service said away from the court.

In a statement, he said: “Today our thoughts are with the family of Sarah Everard. We can only begin to imagine their suffering which will, of course, not end with this sentence.

“All of us in the CPS have been deeply affected by what happened to Sarah. Wayne Couzens treated her with vile depravity. It was a truly evil thing to do.

“The investigation in this case by the Metropolitan Police was meticulous, and our joint prosecution team worked hard to bring the strongest possible case to court.

“The court has now heard the evidence that showed his deliberate planning, and continued efforts to cover up his crimes.

“We all feel betrayed that Couzens abused his position as a police officer to commit such abhorrent crimes.

“All of us should be free to walk our streets safely.”

Away from the court, the Police Federation said “predator” Couzens was “an absolute disgrace to the police service”.

John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “This predator is an absolute disgrace to the police service, and I am totally ashamed that he was ever a police officer.

“I am proud to carry a warrant card, but this vile individual’s abuse of that authority has cast a shadow on all those who work within policing. He has brought disgrace to our uniform.

“The way he took advantage of Sarah’s trust makes me feel sick to the stomach.

“No sentence will ever ease the pain for the family and friends of Sarah or undo the terrible damage this disgusting man has done. He doesn’t deserve to have another single day of freedom and I hope every day he spends in prison is a long one.”

Following the sentencing, Labour MP Harriet Harman, the former women's minister, has called on Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick to resign.

Sharing letters she has sent to Dick and home secretary Priti Patel, she said on Twitter: "Sarah Everard was simply walking home. Women must be able to trust the police not fear them. Women's confidence in police will have been shattered. Urgent action needed. Met Commissioner must resign."

In her letter to Dame Cressida, the MP for Camberwell and Peckham, who is also mother of the House of Commons and chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, said: “Women need to be confident that the police are there to make them safe, not to put them at risk. Women need to be able to trust the police, not to fear them.

“I have written to the Home Secretary to set out a number of actions which must be taken to rebuild the shattered confidence of women in the police service.

“I think it is not possible for you to lead these necessary actions in the Metropolitan Police. I am sure that you must recognise this, and I ask you to resign to enable these changes to be taken through and for women to be able to have justified confidence in the police.”

In a second letter to Ms Patel discussing the crimes of Wayne Couzens, she said: “It is clear that there had been all too many warning signs about him which had been swept under the carpet. It cannot be rebuilt with the attempt to reassure that this was just, as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner said, one ‘bad’un’.

“Women’s confidence in the police can only be rebuilt with substantive and immediate change.”

She called on the Home Secretary to bring forward changes including:

– Immediately suspending officers from duty where there is an allegation of violence against women.

– Dismissing officers immediately when there is a conviction or admission of such a crime.

– Disciplinary action of gross misconduct, leading to dismissal, for failing to report fellow officers for an allegation of violence against women.

– Scrutinising someone’s attitudes to violence against women, including engaging in violence during sex, as part of vetting of police recruits.

– Fresh checks on officers who transfer between forces for allegations of violence against women.

– Training for all current serving officers with a course to teach them to “examine their own attitudes to violence against women and recognise signs in their colleagues”.

But Patel said this afternoon she would “continue to work with” Dick, despite the calls for the commissioner to resign in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder.

Anna Birley, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, said “very little” has changed since Ms Everard’s death and she accused the UK government of failing to protect women from violent crime.

The 32-year-old, who is also a Labour and Co-operative councillor for Lambeth Council and has helped organise vigils for Ms Everard and other women murdered in London, said a “wholesale change within our criminal justice system” is needed.

“What’s depressing is very little has changed," she said. “The Government needs to stop dilly-dallying and take tangible action to stop women from being killed.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this afternoon “no woman should have to fear harassment or violence”, adding that he was “sickened” by the details of Sarah Everard’s murder which emerged during Wayne Couzens’ sentencing hearing.

“There are no words that adequately express the horror of Sarah’s murder. Like the rest of the country, I have been sickened by what we have heard over the course of this sentencing and the pain and suffering endured by her family and friends is truly unimaginable.

“Our police are there to protect us – and I know that officers will share in our shock and devastation at the total betrayal of this duty. People must be able to walk on our streets without fear of harm and with full confidence that the police are there to keep them safe.

“No woman should have to fear harassment or violence. We will do everything possible to prevent these abhorrent crimes and keep our communities safe.”

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, meanwhile, said he supported the whole-life sentence handed to Couzens but "this can never make up for Sarah’s family’s loss".

"Serious mistakes were made and there now must be an urgent, fully transparent and comprehensive investigation to ensure that this never happens again and to ensure women’s confidence and trust in the police," he said on Twitter this afternoon.

"Ministers must recognise that far stronger laws are needed to address the totally unacceptable violence and harassment women and girls are subjected to on our streets.

"Labour would change the law so that those who rape, abduct and murder an individual are always given a whole life order."

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