The Murder of Sarah Everard

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On the night of Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 33 year old Sarah Everard had gotten together for dinner at a friend’s house. At 9pm, Sarah left her friend’s house on Leathwaite Road in Clapham, southwest London for her 2.5 mile walk home (would have taken about 50 minutes). It was dark out at this point, but this area was known for being safe. At 9:13 as she walked, she called her boyfriend & the two spoke for just over 14 minutes & agreed to get together the next day & ended the call about 9:28pm. At 9:15pm, Sarah was captured alone on CCTV.  At 9:35pm, a bus camera caught two figures standing next to a white Vauxhall Astra that was parked on the sidewalk with its hazard lights flashing. At 9:38pm, another bus camera sees the same car with its two front doors open. Sarah was about a mile from home at this point. 

Sarah wouldn’t make it home that night & she would never be seen alive again.

Sarah was born in Surrey in June of 1987 & grew up in York. She was the youngest of three kids; her dad was a professor at York University & her mom worked in the charity industry. Sarah was well liked by classmates during her time in school. In 2008, she headed to London to start her career & lived in the Brixton Hill area in south London & worked as a marketing executive for a digital media agency; she started this position in February of 2021. 

When Sarah failed to show up to meet her boyfriend the next day, she was reported missing at 8:10pm on March 4th. On March 5th, the case escalated & the Specialist Crime Unit became involved & police traced her potential path home in hopes of finding a clue as to where she had gone. Police spoke with area people for any information.  During the time of Sarah’s disappearance, COVID lockdowns were still in full force in London; reasons for being out & about included exercise, shopping for essential items & for medical purposes. Mingling with friends was not allowed at this time so the streets were relatively quiet. CCTV was searched; a bus driving down Poynders Rd saw Sarah speaking with a person, standing next to the white car with its flashers on. The police spoke with people who lived along this route & looked at their ring doorbells, etc & Sarah wasn’t seen on any of this footage so police knew she hadn’t walked further from the point she was seen talking to the man on the bus’ CCTV footage.

A witness later came forward & said they saw Sarah talking to the man seen in the footage & watched as the man placed her in handcuffs & guided her into the back of the car.  The license plate was visible & police discovered that it was a rental car from Dover, southeast of London. From there, they were able to determine who had last rented the car. The man was Wayne Couzins, a police officer who was arrested on March 9th in connection to Sarah’s disappearance. When police arrived to his house to question Wayne, they showed him a picture of Sarah & he denied knowing her.

Wayne was a 48 year old Metropolitan Police Officer; he was a father of two & had been married to a Ukrainian woman named Elena. He lived in Kent & commuted 2.5 hours to his job in central London. He was the oldest of two children; he had previously worked as a mechanic for his family’s business & then was in the Army Reserves. In 2002, Wayne joined the Kent Special Constabulary, working part-time in the volunteer section of the police force. In 2011 he joined the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, protecting nuclear power plants. Wayne didn’t have a completely clean record; in 2015 Kent police allegedly failed to investigate an indecent exposure incident linked to Wayne. During his time at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, Wayne earned himself the nickname, “The Rapist.” What the hell?! In September of 2018, Wayne transferred to the Metropolitan Police Service   

In 2020 Wayne began working as an armed diplomatic protection officer, guarding different nation’s embassies in London. In February of 2021, only one month before Sarah went missing, Wayne was linked to two allegations of indecent exposure which the Metropolitan Police allegedly failed to investigate.

On February 28, Wayne rented a white Vauxhall Astra car from Dover, Kent; he was fully prepared for what happened to Sarah just six days later. When renting the car, he used his actual information, placing his home address on the forms. From there, he purchased a roll of self adhesive carpet protector from Amazon & a handcuff key.  On March 2, 2021 Wayne began a 12 hour shift at 7pm, guarding the US embassy, finishing his shift at 7am, March 3. He drove home to Kent after his shift ended, picked up his rental car & headed back to London. 

That evening, CCTV footage showed Sarah buying a bottle of wine before heading to her friend’s house. As Sarah walked home that night, Wayne was off duty when he stopped her on Poynders road; he wore his police belt. When Wayne stopped Sarah, he arrested her under the false accusation of breaching COVID restriction guidelines. She was actually not supposed to be gathering with friends so the accusation was likely believable to Sarah. She had never been in trouble with the law before, so it’s likely she was scared & just wanted to comply. She was placed in the backseat of the rented car & probably realized very quickly that things were not right as they headed towards Kent instead of the local police department. The drive to Kent would have taken about an hour.

When they arrived in Kent, about 11:38pm, he switched over from the rental car to his own. There, Wayne drove Sarah to a secluded area where he then raped & murdered her, using his police issued belt to strangle her death.

At 2:31am, after killing Sarah, Wayne drove to a gas station in Dover & bought drinks. At 3:21am the car was seen on CCTV near Hoad’s Wood; this is where Wayne dumped Sarah’s body. According to Wikipedia, Hoad’s Wood is a 199 acre area west of Ashford in Kent. He visited the site twice & ultimately left before dawn. All of his movements were tracked via his cell phone. He was seen on CCTV on March 4th, buying a tart & a coffee. At 8:30a.m, he returned the rental car & disposed of Sarah’s phone in Sandwich, Kent.

On Friday, March 5th, not needing to be back to work until the 8th, Wayne told his employer that he was suffering from stress. That day, he was seen on footage filling a gas can; from there, he burned Sarah’s body & possessions in a refrigerator at Hoad’s Wood; then transferred the remains to a nearby pond in two green garbage bags that he had been seen purchasing. He is also on audio recording, making a phone call to his vet the same day, voicing concern that his dog might be suffering from separation anxiety.

On March 6, Wayne emailed his employer, saying he no longer wanted to carry a firearm. On March 7th, Wayne took his wife and two children on a family trip to the woods where he had burned Sarah’s body. On March 8th, Wayne was supposed to be back to work though called in sick. On the 9th, he wiped his cellphone of all data & it was on this day that he was arrested at his home in Kent; having wiped his phone about 40 minutes before police arrived.

As Wayne sat on his couch, an officer showed him a picture of Sarah. When he was asked if he knew her, he said, “I don’t, no.” They explained that she was missing & her family was extremely worried. They asked him if he knew where Sarah was & he said no. They asked if he knew anything about what happened to her & he said, “I know that she went missing up in London somewhere, what, about a week ago or so? Just from what I got on the news.” They asked if he had personally met her & he said, “No, not personally, no, no.” They asked if he had had any interactions with her & he said, “No, why.. Why, would I personally have interactions with her?”  

They explained that they believed he was involved in her disappearance but didn’t tell him how they knew. They asked him to tell them where they could find her. He said, “I am in financial shit & I’ve been leant on by, I don’t know who they are. They’re a group, a gang, whatever… And they told me why I need to go and pick up girls and give them to them so I said, it’s not happening & it then came through that they are going to harm my family, take them away, you know, use them instead. At that point, I had no option but to try and find somebody. So I don’t um, there’s a couple of names I was told a place to take her. That’s it.. That is all I know. And hand her to this  group of people.

The officer said, “Tell me about them, I need to find them. Tell me everything you know.” Wayne said, “Okay, there was a white Sprinter van.. They are between sort of Lenham Maidstone area that I dropped her off. I still don’t know, I don’t know, they just, I just parked my car and then the van come up behind me, flashed me and they all jumped out and then they took this girl. They said, you done good and I don’t know whether my family is going to be alright still. They, they threatened, they threatened to take my family away from me, so with that point, I’m doing what I can to protect my family. That’s it, so all I know is that it was a roundabout. We could drive there now, I could show you roughly.. I don’t know the Lenham, Maidstone area at all.

The officer asked if they could look it up on Google Maps as Wayne continued to go on and on about the roundabout he took to where the Sprinter van flashed him. He said that three guys got out, opened his door, opened that door and pushed him out against the front of the car, took the girl & drove off. That’s it. They said, “we’ll be in touch.” He said this ordeal caused him to be home & off work because of stress & to be there to protect his family 24/7. They asked Wayne how these people got in touch with him in the first place & he said it was because he ripped of one their call girls. They again asked how they contacted him to make the threats & Wayne said, “they just tell me, ‘be here, be here, be here’. So ‘Hotel Burstin down in Folkstone – ‘be here.’ Okay, so I turned up. I’ve got no mobile number & they haven’t got my mobile number.” The officers continued to clarify how “these people” are able to tell him where to be if they don’t have his number & Wayne told them they would be outside his house waiting. He said the Spinter van had Romanian license plates.

While Wayne was being arrested on suspicion of kidnap & murder, forensic officers continued to search the wooded areas in Kent. In the early evening hours of March 10, Sarah’s body was found in a pond close to the land owned by Wayne. On March 12, Wayne was charged with Sarah’s murder & would later plead guilty, on July 9th to kidnap, rape & murder.  At one point he had to be taken to the hospital for self harm after being found in his cell with marks on his forehead after bashing his own head in. On September 30, 2021 Wayne was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On March 13, vigils were held for Sarah despite police warning that it would breach COVID regulations. Throughout that afternoon people left tributes to Sarah at a bandstand in Clapham Common, near the route Sarah had taken the night she went missing. By 4pm, about 200 people gathered at the site & by 5:30, there was a steady stream of people headed towards the bandstand as police stood scattered around the area. At 5:45 things picked up when a man walked onto the bandstand and began shouting about the death of Sarah & COVID regulations; this caused parts of the crowd to boo the man & eventually, he was led away by police. At 6pm a minute of silence was held for Sarah; by this time, the crowd had grown to over 500 people. Police presence also increased. Nearing 6:30, it was dark by this point, police begin asking the crowd to leave, saying COVID regulations are being broken though this does nothing to break up the crowd. Nearing 7pm, the bandstand was basically surrounded by police & the atmosphere was getting more hostile. Some women in the crowd begin shouting that they’re done being bullied by police & at 7:20, a woman is seen being shoved in the back by two officers and minutes later, another women is grabbed by police; she said she was tackled to the ground & she was threatened that the office had his hand on his baton. Four people ended up being arrested on suspicion of breaching the Health Protection Regulation

Sarah’s murder sparked a movement focusing on women’s safety. After Sarah’s disappearance, police urged women to stay home for their safety, to watch where they go or what they wear which caused a lot of anger. The fact that Wayne was a member of the police force was very concerning & then the light was shed on the fact that multiple issues had been ignored with claims of indecent exposure. There was also an incident where Wayne had to be called in to the station from patrolling because a prostitute came to the station, demanding money from Wayne. The woman who reported his indecent exposure said that when she reported it, the officers just laughed at here. In 2018 Wayne had also sexually assaulted a drag queen at a pub. Ten officers ended up facing misconduct charges. Many discussions were had about how women should handle being stopped by a single police officer; so what should you do if you find yourself in this situation? According to BBC News, you can dial 999 (or 911 in the US) to verify the officer. If you don’t have access to a phone & the police car is unmarked, you can request that another officer be called. You can also call the station the officer is connected to to verify their identity. You can also call a family member or friend & let them know where you are & what’s happening.


  1. Wikipedia: Hoad’s Wood
  2. CNN: How events unfolded in Sarah Everard’s killing as her murderer is sentenced to life without parole
  3. YouTube – That Chapter: The Case of Sarah Everard
  4. Wikipedia: Murder of Sarah Everard
  5. BBC News: Sarah Everard: What should you do if you are stopped by police?
  6. Sarah Everard Vigil: What went wrong?

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