Sarah Everard’s family confronted her murderer in court today – and spoke of the ‘pain and torture’ he had inflicted on them all.
They shared their impact statements at the Old Bailey in London, on the first day of the sentencing hearing of Wayne Couzens.
Jeremy Everard, a professor of electronics at the University of York, 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.
The killer, 48, had sat hunched over throughout his sentencing hearing and Mr Everard calmly asked him: “Mr Couzens, please will you look at me.”
Couzens, who is facing a possible whole life sentence after admitting Ms Everard’s rape, kidnap and murder, 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.
“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.”
A predator on the loose
Brought up in York, Ms Everard went to Fulford School then studied geography at Durham University before moving to London – where her brother James and sister Katie also live – around 12 years ago, taking a break from work to travel around South America in 2013.
Living in Brixton, south London, she had recently started a new job as a marketing executive and had a boyfriend, Josh Lowth, when she was snatched on her way home from a friend’s house on 3 March.
Ms Everard’s sister Katie also asked Couzens: “Will you please look at me?”
She said the family had to go to her flat in Brixton to pack up her “whole life”, with washing left hanging, half-sewn outfits and packages waiting to be opened when she got home.
“But she never got home because a predator – you – was on the loose. Prowling the streets for hours looking for his prey,” she told Couzens, reading her victim statement in court.
“My only hope is that she was in a state of shock and that she wasn’t aware of the disgusting things being done to her by a monster.”
She broke down in tears and wept as she told Couzens: “How dare you take her from me?
“Take away her hopes and dreams. Her life. Children that will never be born. Generations that will never exist. Her future no longer exists.
“The future I was supposed to live with my sister no longer exists. You have ruined so many lives.
“Sarah is the very best person with so many people who love and cherish her.
“I want to speak to her and hug her and hear her laugh and go out for dinners and drinks and dancing.
“All those conversations we can never have. There were so many things I wanted to share with her – trips abroad, being each other’s bridesmaid, meeting her babies and being an aunty, growing old together and seeing who got the most wrinkles.
“We weren’t even halfway through our journey and you took it all away.”
‘Haunted by the horror’
Ms Everard’s mother Susan, a charity worker, also faced her daughter’s killer, telling the packed court she has been left “broken hearted” by what he has done.
“She was my precious little girl, our youngest child,” she said.
“The feeling of loss is so great it is visceral. And with the sorrow comes 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.”
Mrs Everard said she is “haunted by the horror” of what happened to her daughter, describing the burning of her body as “the final insult”.
“Our lives will never be the same,” she said.
“We should be a family of five, but now we are four.
“Her death leaves a yawning chasm in our lives that cannot be filled.
“I yearn for her. I remember all the lovely things about her: she was caring, she was funny.
“She was clever, but she was good at practical things too. She was a beautiful dancer. She was a wonderful daughter.”