Wayne Couzens: The monster that lurked behind the trusted police officer’s family man façade

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·5-min read
Wayne Couzens: The monster that lurked behind the trusted police officer’s family man façade
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On the surface Wayne Couzens was a loving family man and a respected police officer, the kind of person who is usually looked-up to as a pillar of the community.

But below the façade lurked the horrific true nature of his character, a “monster” who kidnapped an innocent young woman from the streets of south London, raped and murdered her in terrifying circumstances, and disposed of her body as if she was rubbish.

Couzens has offered little in the way of explanation, leaving behind a swathe of unanswered questions around the murder of Sarah Everard – why did he do it? How and where did the marketing executive meet her tragic end? How could Couzens be so cold, returning to his mundane family duties while still trying to dispose of a body?

But perhaps the most pressing question is for police chiefs and politicians; when signs of Couzens’ monstrous character were glimpsed, why was little if anything done? And could he have been stopped.

Couzens used his police background to execute his terrible plan, duping Ms Everard into thinking he was carrying out a lawful arrest and eroding the faith many have in our law enforcement officers.

The Old Bailey has heard how Couzens was accused in the past of an interest in “brutal sexual pornography”. In 2015, he was accused of indecent exposure and Kent Police are under the spotlight for an alleged failure to investigate.

And in February this year, just weeks before Sarah Everard’s kidnap, rape and murder, Couzens was accused of indecent exposure but once again there are suggestions the Met Police failed to properly investigate.

Wayne Couzens and Sarah Everard on CCTV, taken on the night she was kidnapped (Met Police/PA) (PA Media)
Wayne Couzens and Sarah Everard on CCTV, taken on the night she was kidnapped (Met Police/PA) (PA Media)

Born in December 1972, Couzens lived with his wife of 16 years, Olena, and their two children in an apparently happy family life in Deal, Kent.

When police first questioned Couzens about Ms Everard’s disappearance, reminders of his home life - children’s pictures hanging on the wall, a sports trophy on the shelf, and the family cat jumping on to a lamp – punctuated the exchange.

Police officers were desperately hoping that Couzens would help them to find Ms Everard safe and well, but his true character showed through once again.

Without much of a pause to think, Couzens concocted a tissue of lies about organised crime and threats to his family, knowing full well that Ms Everard was already dead.

The officer joined the Kent Special Constabulary in 2002 and moved to the Civil Nuclear Constabulary in 2011. In September 2018, he transferred over to the Met Police.

Couzens served in a Safer Neighbourhood team, he was part of a response team in Bromley, and in February 2020 he was moved to the prestigious Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.

Wayne Couzens concocted a lie to police he had “no choice” but to kidnap Sarah Everard and hand her over to an Eastern European gang after he tried to “rip off” one of their call girls. (PA)
Wayne Couzens concocted a lie to police he had “no choice” but to kidnap Sarah Everard and hand her over to an Eastern European gang after he tried to “rip off” one of their call girls. (PA)

Issued with a licence to carry firearms, Couzens was trusted to offer protection for embassies around the capital.

In February, Couzens put in action his plan to kidnap and rape a woman, travelling repeatedly to London for research and hiring a vehicle from Enterprise Rent-a-Car which he would later use to capture Ms Everard.

Twelve hours after clocking off from work, Couzens used his police training, equipment, and know-how to carry out the kidnapping, posing as an undercover officer who was enforcing the Covid-19 rules.

He put Ms Everard in the “rear stack” handcuff position after flashing his warrant card, pretending this was a real arrest rather than a sickening – and brazen – kidnapping on the side of the busy South Circular.

Strikingly, the evidence reveals Couzens’ ability to seamlessly mix horror and mundanity over the next few days, as he raped, murdered, burned and dumped Ms Everard while also dealing with family chores.

He sounded calm and breezy as he phoned the vet to seek “separation anxiety” treatment for their dog, Maddie, and appeared to be normal when rearranging his children’s dental appointments.

Couzens was caught on CCTV buying petrol (PA)
Couzens was caught on CCTV buying petrol (PA)

Couzens stopped for drinks and food – a caramel latte, bakewell tart, hot chocolate with coconut milk, a McDonald’s value meal – in and among trips to buy petrol, returning the hire car, burning Ms Everard’s body, and dumping it in a pond.

On one service station stop, Couzens could be seen squeezing his hands together, the only outward sign of tension captured on camera in the days before he was arrested.

“He acted, at home and elsewhere, entirely as normal”, said Lord Justice Fulford.

In the background were concerns about money, as Couzens slipped to £29,000 of debt, and a suggestion of mild depression. But none of that explains the depraved actions he took.

Friends and family say they are “absolutely staggered” by what he did, having believed he was a loving family man and trusted police officer.

In the dock, Couzens could not bear to lift his head during the two-day sentence, not even when Ms Everard’s distraught family insisted that he look them in the eye.

His barrister, Jim Sturman QC, said Couzens is “ashamed”, “filled with self-loathing”, and cannot explain why he did what he did. It is hoped years in prison and therapy will “unlock” the answers, the court heard.

With Couzens now locked away until he dies, attention will turn to wider questions of how police officers are managed and monitored, as well as the safety of women on the streets of London and elsewhere.

“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”, said the judge, of Couzens’ grim legacy.

Read More

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