Sarah Everard was the victim of “deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire”, a court has heard at the start of her murderer’s sentencing.
Wayne Couzens, 48, was a serving Pc with the Metropolitan Police when he snatched Ms Everard as she walked home in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.
The sexual predator, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift that morning, went on to rape and strangle the 33-year-old marketing executive.
A week after she disappeared, Everard’s body was found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just metres from land owned by Couzens.
The firearms-trained parliamentary and diplomatic protection officer wiped his phone just minutes before he was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, on March 9.
The killing prompted national outrage and sparked protests at the rate of violence against women.
‘She was just walking home’
In July, Couzens pleaded guilty to Everard’s murder, kidnap and rape by video link from jail.
On Wednesday, he came face to face with his victim’s family when he was brought into the dock of the Old Bailey for the start of his sentencing.
Opening the facts, prosecutor Tom Little QC said the disappearance of Ms Everard was one of the most widely publicised missing person investigations the country has ever seen.
After her body was discovered in woodland, it became summarised by the the hash tag “she was just walking home”, he said.
But that did not completely describe what happened to Everard, the court heard.
Little said: “Whilst it is impossible to summarise what the defendant did to Sarah Everard in just five words, if it had to be done then it would be more appropriate to do so as deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire.”
Ahead of the start of the two-day sentencing, Scotland Yard released a statement: “We are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s crimes which betray everything we stand for.
“Our thoughts are with Sarah’s family and her many friends. It is not possible for us to imagine what they are going through.
“We recognise his actions raise many questions and concerns but we will not be commenting further until the hearing is complete.”
Lord Justice Fulford will consider whether to hand down a whole life term before he sentences Couzens on Thursday.