Sarah Everard: What could Wayne Couzens face as a whole-of-life order?


Sarah Everard: What could Wayne Couzens face as a whole-of-life order?

Wayne Couzens, the police officer who kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard in March, will be sentenced today.

Couzens used his police card and handcuffs in order to persuade Everard into his car in Clapham. The court heard that Couzens claimed he was imposing Coronavirus lockdowns.

According to the prosecution, he then drove her to Kent forests where he raped, strangled, and burned her body. Her remains were found one week later. This triggered vigils and calls to action across the country.

Lord Justice Fulford will decide on the minimum length of Couzens’ life sentence on Thursday at the Old Bailey in central London and prosecutor Tom Little QC has argued he should be handed a whole life order due to the severity of his crimes.

What is a whole life order?

Whole life orders are some of the harshest punishments in the UK. They are the most severe punishment available in the UK.

People who receive a sentence are expected to be executed behind bars.

What are the factors that determine whether a criminal receives a full life order?

Home secretaries used to issue whole-life tariffs in the past. These are now decided by judges.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently undergoing Parliament, allows the Government to expand the use whole life orders for the premeditated killing of a child.

Judges could also be allowed to sentence 18- to-20-year-olds for the most serious crimes, such as acts of terror that result in mass casualties.

In exceptional cases, judges will be able to impose a whole-life order on any 18-year old or older, but not 21-year-old, under certain conditions.

What are the criminals serving whole life sentences?

According to data from the Government, there are 60 criminals currently serving whole life sentences.

Milly Dowler’s killer Levi Bellfield is thought to be the only criminal in UK legal history to be serving two whole life orders for her murder as well as the killings of Marsha McDonnell and Amelie Delagrange and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy between 2002 and 2003.

Other notorious criminals serving whole life orders include serial killer Rose West, Michael Adebolajo, one of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s killers; Mark Bridger, who murdered five-year-old April Jones in Wales; neo-Nazi Thomas Mair who killed MP Jo Cox; Grindr serial killer Stephen Port and the Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah, who murdered three men in a park in 2020.

The whole life orders were issued to Moors killers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley as well as Peter Sutcliffe the Yorkshire Ripper and Harold Shipman, who also murdered three men in a park in 2020.


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