– 09/03/21 –
A date that is etched in my memory.
The date an arrest was made in the Sarah Everard case…
That arrest being of serving Metropolitan Police Officer,
and trained Firearms Officer,
PC Wayne Couzens…
Now, for a bit of background information* for anyone unfamiliar with the case…
*!!DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC DETAILS WHICH SOME READERS MAY FIND DISTRESSING. PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO THE LAST 4 PARAGRAPHS IF YOU WOULD RATHER SKIP THE DETAILS!!*
Sarah Everard, a 33 year old Marketing Executive originally from York, though living in South London at the time of her disappearance, was reported missing on the 4th March 2021.
Sarah was last seen walking through Clapham Common at around 9pm on the 3rd March, having just left her friends house where she had been for dinner. Following that sighting, there were no further sightings of her, and no further activity recorded on her phone.
The alarm was subsequently raised by her boyfriend, Josh, when, the next day, Sarah failed to turn up to a work meeting which was very out of character for Everard.
The Metropolitan Police, as part of their missing person’s investigation, were seen searching houses, lakes, even drains. It was when I read that they were doing the latter-searching drains– that I really started to feel unnerved. Someone does not just go missing and end up in a drain. The police, despite them not saying so at this stage, were quite obviously fearing that the worst had happened to Sarah which, we now know, tragically had happened…
It was on March 9th, 6 days on from the date on which Sarah was last seen, that Wayne Couzens- a serving Metropolitan Police Officer- was arrested at his home in Kent, a result of incriminating CCTV footage having been obtained. The footage showed Couzens talking to Sarah by the side of the road, prior to him falsely ‘arresting’ her and placing her in the back of a car he had hired, all on the pretense of her having ‘broken COVID-19 lockdown rules.’ It later transpired that Couzens then drove Sarah some 80 miles away in his hire car, before stopping in Dover and transferring Sarah over to his own car.
Despite CCTV evidence having proven that Couzens was responsible for Sarah’s kidnapping, in response to Police questions, Couzens stated that he was working on behalf of an Eastern European gang who were threatening his family due to debts owed. He said that he gave Sarah, alive, to the Gang as a means to ‘pay off’ his debts. At this point, as there was nothing to suggest that Sarah was dead, Couzens was arrested solely on suspicion of kidnap.
It wasn’t until 10th March, (1 week after Sarah was last seen), that human remains were found in a builders bag in remote woodland in Kent. Following dental record checks, these remains were tragically confirmed to be those of Sarah Everard. And so, in light of this development, Couzens was subsequently arrested on suspicion of murder.
It was on the 12th March that Couzens was charged- with the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard. His trial saw him being given the harshest, most severe punishment there is in the UK- a ‘whole life order’- meaning that Couzens can never be released from prison (i.e., he will die behind bars)…
Whilst Couzens has never explicitly revealed how he killed Sarah, we know, from the CCTV footage obtained of that fateful night, that Couzens lured Sarah into his car, after presenting her with his Warrant card and staging a false arrest, during which she was handcuffed, and therefore unable to defend herself. And, we know, following the results of a post-mortem, that Sarah’s cause of death was ‘compression of the neck’- she was strangled, most likely with, it was later revealed, Couzens’ Police belt. We also know, following these results, that Sarah may have, horrifyingly, been alive for up to 5 hours before being killed…
After being killed? The details are even more horrifying, I’m afraid…
Sarah was placed in a fly-tipped fridge and burnt, before her remains were put into builders bags and dumped, like rubbish. Unsurprisingly then, Sarah, when found, was in a very bad state, so much so that the, then Met Commissioner (head of London’s Police Force), Cressida Dick, when announcing that human remains had been found, had to state; ‘we are not able to confirm any identity and, indeed, that may take us some considerable time…’ This was, tragically, further reinforced in the victim statements read out by Sarah’s family in court…
Jeremy Everard (Sarah’s Father)- ‘Her body fell apart when she was moved.’
Katie Everard (Sarah’s Sister)- ‘We couldn’t even see her, she was so badly burnt. Shards of her kneecap were returned to us to be placed with her body – shards that you knocked when moving her burnt body from the fridge you had used to hide her and conceal the fire. Her burnt body still had her necklace and one earring in her ear. The other had fallen from her ear because it had burnt off.’
Now, I feel that it’s important to note here that; Sarah’s murder wasn’t a ‘spur of the moment‘ event, either,(not that it would’ve been any better if it had been)- but no- it was undoubtedly premeditated, to such an extent, in fact, that Couzens spent at least one month travelling to London to determine ‘how best to commit his crimes’, telling his family (his wife and 2 young children) that he was working night-shifts during this time. He also spent significant time making purchases for the things he would go on to use during Sarah’s kidnap, rape, and murder (On the 28th February, Couzens hired a rental car and bought self-adhesive carpet protector film. On the 1st March, handcuffs, Velcro straps, and bobbles were ordered). All that was missing at this point, then, was his victim, and so, Couzens went on to hunt a lone young female to kidnap and rape.*
*Perhaps this- the fact that Couzens went on a ‘hunt’- he had no intended victim in mind- is the most haunting part of all this…
Because, you see? Couzens didn’t know Sarah. She was, as we’ve become too accustomed to saying when tragic events like this occur, simply, ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time.‘
And so, with this in mind, it genuinely could’ve been anyone–
like Sarah Everard-
being raped, murdered, burnt, and disposed of…
It could’ve been my sister,
It could’ve been me.
Realising this is what made the days, weeks, and months that followed Sarah Everard’s murder so difficult for me, on a personal level, someone with no connection whatsoever to Sarah, and so, to Sarah’s family and friends then, their pain must’ve been incomprehensible, as was later confirmed in Sarah’s Mum, Susan Everard’s, victim statement;
‘My outlook on life has changed since Sarah died. I am more cautious, I worry more. I crave the familiarity and security of home – the wider world has lost its appeal.’
Because of how shocking the Sarah Everard case was- is– in 2021, as the details begun to slowly emerge regarding the full extent of what Couzens had actually done, I became, what I can only describe as ‘obsessed‘ with the case- constantly typing Sarah Everard’s name into Google.
It felt like, no sooner had I woken up than I was going back to bed, a full day having passed me by without any knowledge of it, for, I was wholly consumed by the case. Even though it was making me feel even worse, like a form of self-harm, almost, I just couldn’t stop. I wanted to know everything, every detail of what had happened on that day, and why.
Like I said, I was obsessed, all the while fearing that I would never be able to trust anyone again, my thought process being; if we can’t trust the police- the one group of people who we’re told we can rely on to protect us no matter what- then who can we trust?
&, an even greater concern of mine,
Who can we trust to protect us from the Police?
Now, just over 2 years on from the case, I have a greater understanding as to why the case made me feel so bad-
about myself and about the world in general-
&, as to why I was so engrossed in it/
Not a morbid fascination, but a want or, as it felt at the time, a NEED, to understand;
could a human being do something so cruel, so inherently inhumane, to another human?
What on earth could drive someone to do that?
Unfortunately, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this, the answer to the above question(s) is one which we will, most likely, never discover. We must just accept that some people are evil/sometimes people choose to do evil things. But, like we so readily accept that evil exists in the world, we must also accept that goodness exists in the world, too. We must accept this, focus on this and, focus on the fact that; there is actually far more goodness than evil around, we’re just too quick to overlook it, for, generally speaking, the ‘nice’, ‘wholesome’ stories don’t make headline news, whereas, the violence and the rapes and the murders, they do.
So, if this posts ending message has given you just one thing to think about, then I hope that it’s this–
the world isn’t a bad place, there are just a few bad people in it,
&, if it has given you just one reminder, then I hope that it’s this–
never let the one-off, bad events consume you, for, as horrible as they are, you must remember that; for every one evil act that takes place in the world, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of good acts taking place. Focus on these-
focus on the good acts-
the light, not the dark.
Allow yourself to focus on all that is beautiful about the world,
as you leave the dark
For Sarah’s Legacy,
let this be it-
of the light–
the light that, like the sun, is ever-present, for, even when the night falls and the sky is dark, the sun invisible to us, it is still up there, somewhere, we just need to wait for the darkness to pass in order for us to see it again.
It (the light) can never truly go away.
And so, you see?
There is always light to be found,
—a l w a y s—