Women even more at risk since Sarah Everard’s murder, says Couzens prosecutor

Sarah Everard: The Search For Justice will air on Tuesday evening on BBC One
Sarah Everard: The Search For Justice will air on Tuesday evening on BBC One - BBC/Everard family and friends

Violence against women and girls is getting worse, the prosecutor in the Wayne Couzens trial has said.

Tom Little KC said he did not think the number of attacks was “reducing or decreasing in any way” following the murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021 by the serving Metropolitan Police officer.

He made the comments while speaking on camera for the first time about the case in a new documentary on the 33-year-old’s death.

Sarah Everard: The Search For Justice has been two-and-a-half years in the making and will air on Tuesday evening on BBC One, days after the third anniversary of her death.

Speaking about the trial, Mr Little said that in order to secure a whole life order, meaning Couzens, now 51, would never be released, he had to prove he had used his position as a police officer to trick Miss Everard into getting into his car in Clapham, south-west London.

“That is a situation that had never arisen before. Police officers had murdered but they had never done so while acting as a police officer.”

He added: “I don’t think the incidences of violence against women and girls is reducing or decreasing in any way. In fact it would appear to me that it’s getting worse.”

Sarah Everard
Sarah Everard was murdered in March 2021 by Wayne Couzens, while he was a serving officer in the Metropolitan Police - BBC/Everard family and friends/PA

Also appearing in the documentary, and speaking for the first time, is Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin, who led the investigation.

DCI Goodwin said the thing that most troubles her is whether police can win back the public’s trust following the murder.

She added :”I began to wonder then, how endemic it is.”

In the year after Miss Everard's murder 138 women were killed by men in the UK or a man was the chief suspect
In the year after Miss Everard's murder 138 women were killed by men in the UK or a man was the chief suspect - BBC/Everard family and friends

In the documentary, Miss Goodwin also revealed the police discovered Couzens was suspected of an indecent exposure offence days earlier in Kent before they found out he was a serving officer.

A team was sent to Couzens’ house in Kent to question him. But while officers were en route, a detective ran into Miss Goodwin’s office, shut the door and told her: “You need to hear this.”

A researcher on the phone then revealed that Couzens was a serving Met officer.

Miss Goodwin said: “I knew that I had to tell my boss and I can just remember the shock of having to just sit on the floor of the office and say to her, ‘You’re not going to believe this, that he’s a police officer’.

“And then the same questions went through her head as went through my head, ‘Are you sure?’”

Former Met detective Nick Harvey was the first to question Couzens and recalled the moment he discovered the suspect was a serving officer while driving to his house.

He told the documentary: “The gravity of the whole situation then became incredibly clear. You know, the moment I told the team, it just went silent.”

Mr Harvey knocked on Couzens’ door and said that when he showed his warrant card “he just went grey”.

“Just... all the colour just ran out of his face,” he said.

Police footage in the documentary showed Couzens during interrogation rocking back and forth in custody with a bandage on his head.

He is asked how he is feeling, to which he replied: “I am in a dark place.”

He then refused to answer any questions about the murder, until finally a female officer says to him: “People trust us to look after them. People trust us to help them. You know, protect and serve, that’s what they say, isn’t it? That’s what we’re here to do. We all took that oath, you included.”

Sarah Everard: The Search for Justice
Miss Everard was walking home at night when Couzens arrested her - BBC/Everard family and friends/PA

In the year after Miss Everard’s murder 138 women were killed by men in the UK or a man was the chief suspect. In the same year in England and Wales, an estimated 798,000 women experienced sexual assault and more than 100,000 were raped or were a victim of attempted rape

The documentary will be shown the week after a damning report released by Lady Elish Angiolini found the police repeatedly ignored and missed chances to stop Couzens.

The inquiry branded him a “predatory sex offender and murderer” who should have never been a police officer.

In a 347-page report, Lady Elish revealed how Couzens’ first interactions with police dated back to 1995 when he allegedly tried to kidnap a woman at knifepoint in north London.

In 2015, while working for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, Couzens again exposed himself but despite the victims providing police with his car registration, he was never arrested or charged.

Lady Elish said without a radical overhaul of policing practices and culture there was “nothing to stop another Couzens operating in plain sight”.

Sarah Everard: The Search For Justice will air on Tuesday at 9pm on BBC One and iPlayer.