Watch: Wayne Couzens took family trip to woods where he burnt Sarah Everard's body
Wayne Couzens took a family trip with his wife and two children to the same woods where he had dumped and burned Sarah Everard’s body just days before, a court has heard.
The Old Bailey was told how Couzens, 48, took his wife and children on a family trip to Hoads Wood, near Ashford, Kent, on 7 March, two days before his arrest
On the journey to the area with his family, he withdrew cash from the same Dover service station he had been to shortly after raping and murdering his victim.
Prosecutor Tom Little QC said: “It follows that the defendant took his family on a family trip to the very woods where days earlier he had left Sarah Everard’s body, then returned to burn it and then returned again to move it and hide it.”
Couzens allowed his children to play in “relatively close proximity to where Ms Everard’s body had been dumped in the pond”, he added.
The 48-year-old married father-of-two, from Deal in Kent, abducted Ms Everard in a hire car as she walked home in south London on the evening of 3 March.
In the early hours of the next morning, he raped and murdered her in a remote rural area near Dover, then made attempts to dispose of her body in Hoads Wood, near Ashford, where he owned land.
The firearms officer used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch Ms Everard, using COVID lockdown regulations to make a “false arrest”.
Couzens had worked on uniformed COVID patrols in late January to enforce coronavirus regulations, so would have known what language to use to those who may have breached them, Little said.
He is thought to have been wearing his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray holder, when he kidnapped Ms Everard as she walked home.
“The fact she had been to a friend’s house for dinner at the height of the early 2021 lockdown made her more vulnerable to and more likely to submit to an accusation that she had acted in breach of the COVID regulations in some way,” said Mr Little.
The court heard how Couzens had booked a hire car, adding: “His movements were consistent with the defendant looking for, or hunting, for a lone young female to kidnap and rape, which is precisely what he did.”
CCTV footage played in court shows Couzens raising his left arm, holding a warrant card, before handcuffing Ms Everard and putting her into the back of the car.
A passing couple witnessed the kidnapping but mistook it for an arrest by an undercover officer, the court heard.
“They were in fact witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard,” Mr Little said.
“She was detained by fraud. The defendant using his warrant card and handcuffs as well as his other police issue equipment to affect a false arrest.”
Also at the hearing, Miss Everard's father asked her murderer to face him in court, telling Couzens: “No punishment that you receive will ever compare to the pain and torture that you have inflicted on us.”
Jeremy Everard, a professor of electronics at the University of York, stood in the witness box at the Old Bailey on Wednesday to read his victim impact statement.
He asked for a photo of “my beautiful daughter” to be shown on the court’s big screen, adding: “she also had a beautiful mind”, before turning to face Couzens.
Mr Everard calmly asked him: “Mr Couzens, please will you look at me.”
Couzens raised his head slightly but did not make eye contact.
Mr Everard told Couzens “there can be no redemption” for what he has done. “All my family want is Sarah back with us,” he said.
“No punishment that you receive will ever compare to the pain and torture that you have inflicted on us.
“You murdered our daughter and forever broke the hearts of her mother, father, brother, sister, family and her friends.
“Sarah had so much to look forward to and because of YOU this is now gone forever."
Couzens was arrested on 9 March after police trawled through some 1,800 hours of CCTV footage.
Shortly before his arrest he wiped his phone and later in police interview concocted a false story about being “leant” on by a gang to pick up girls.
He has pleaded guilty to kidnap, rape and murder and faces a possible full life sentence when he is sentenced by Lord Justice Fulford at the Old Bailey on Thursday.
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