By Emma Dooney
Sarah Everard's mum delivered a gut-wrenching statement in court on Wednesday, ahead of today's sentencing for Wayne Couzens.
The mother of Sarah Everard, the young woman who was brutally murdered by Wayne Couzens on March 3, came face-to-face with her daughter's killer at the Old Bailey in London yesterday.
The 48-year-old ex-police officer was brought into the docks at the Central Criminal Court where he was confronted by his victim's grieving parents, Susan and Jeremy Everard, as well as her older sister, Katie.
Couzens was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday after pleading guilty to the abduction, rape, and murder of the 33-year-old marketing executive in July.
It has now been revealed that the ex-Metropolitan Police Officer used his police status to falsely arrest and handcuff Everard, before forcing her into his car and strangling her with his uniform belt. He then burned her body in an attempt to conceal the crime, hiding the remains in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent. Everard's corpse was found on 10 March, after a week-long search mission.
Sarah's mother Susan was the first member of the Everard family to speak up at yesterday's hearing, courageously addressing Couzens in a heartbreaking victim statement.
"Sarah is gone and I am broken-hearted," she began. She was my precious little girl, our youngest child. The feeling of loss is so great it is visceral. And with the sorrow come waves of panic at not being able to see her again. I can never talk to her, never hold her again, and never more be a part of her life. We have kept her dressing gown—it still smells of her and I hug that instead of her."
Susan went on to reveal that she is "tormented" by the thoughts of her daughter's "final hours", which were spent "with the very worst of humanity."
"I play it out in my mind. I go through the terrible sequence of events. I wonder when she realized she was in mortal danger; I wonder what her murderer said to her. When he strangled her, for how long was she conscious, knowing she would die? It is torture to think of it," she said.
"She lost her life because Wayne Couzens wanted to satisfy his perverted desires. It is a ridiculous reason, it is nonsensical; how could he value a human life so cheaply? I cannot comprehend it. I am incandescent with rage at the thought of it. He treated my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed of her as if she was rubbish."
Susan then shared her unbearable pain at the absence of her beloved daughter, whom she thinks of "all the time."
"The mornings and evenings are particularly painful. In the morning I wake up to the awful reality that Sarah is gone. In the evenings, at the time she was abducted, I let out a silent scream: 'Don’t get in the car, Sarah. Don’t believe him. Run!'"
Susan also detailed a recent dream she had of Everard, in which she "held her and could feel her physically. Jeremy was there, we were comforting her, saying "it’s alright Sarah, it’s alright". I would give anything to hold her once more; I hope I dream that dream again."
Susan's powerful words were followed by the victim statement of Everard's father, Jeremy. The grieving dad addressed Couzens directly, telling him to "please look at me" during his speech.
"You burnt our daughter’s body—you further tortured us—so that we could not see her again. We did not know whether you had burnt her alive or dead. You stopped us seeing Sarah for one last time and stopped me from giving my daughter one last kiss goodbye," he said.
"Sarah had so much to look forward to and because of you this is now gone forever. She was saving to buy a house and looking forward to marriage and children. We were looking forward to having grandchildren. We loved being a part of Sarah’s world and expected her to have a full and happy life. The closest we can get to her now is to visit her grave every day."
On Thursday, Couzens was handed down the maximum punishment of a whole life order by judge Lord Justice Fulford.
Emma is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. She covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health or lifestyle story. When she's not reporting on the British monarchy and A-list celebs, you can find her whipping up vegan treats and running the roads to cheesy '90s pop music...but not at the same time, obviously.
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