Sarah Everard’s family said they were “very pleased” that former London police officer Wayne Couzens would “spend the rest of his life in jail” for the rape and murder of the 33-year-old.
On Thursday, Lord Justice Fulford handed down the maximum penalty to Couzens, 48, at the Old Bailey court in London, saying he had planned a “devastating, tragic and wholly brutal” in “unspeakably” grim detail.
Everard’s family, who delivered powerful victim impact statements on Wednesday, cried and hugged as her killer was told he would die behind bars.
In a statement released following the sentencing, they said the knowledge that he would be behind bars until his death brought "some relief”.
But “nothing can make things better, nothing can bring Sarah back”, they said.
Statement in full
“We are very pleased that Wayne Couzens has received a full life sentence and will spend the rest of his life in jail. Nothing can make things better, nothing can bring Sarah back, but knowing he will be imprisoned forever brings some relief.
“Sarah lost her life needlessly and cruelly and all the years of life she had yet to enjoy were stolen from her. Wayne Couzens held a position of trust as a police officer and we are outraged and sickened that he abused this trust in order to lure Sarah to her death. The world is a safer place with him imprisoned.
“It is almost seven months since Sarah died and the pain of losing her is overwhelming. We miss her all the time. She was a beautiful young woman in looks and character and our lives are the poorer without her. We remember all the lovely things about Sarah – her compassion and kindness, her intelligence, her strong social conscience. But we especially like to remember her laughing and dancing and enjoying life. We hold her safe in our hearts.
“We are immensely grateful to the police and legal team who worked on Sarah’s case. We cannot thank them enough for their meticulous and painstaking work and for their constant support. We also send our heartfelt thanks to our family and friends for comforting us through this terrible time.”
Police chief: 'I am so sorry'
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said Wayne Couzens had brought “shame” on the Metropolitan Police and branded him a “coward”.
She said: “I am absolutely horrified that this man used his position of trust to deceive and coerce Sarah and I know you all are too.
“His actions were a gross betrayal of everything policing stands for.”
Dame Cressida added: “He showed himself to be the coward he is through his lies and seeking to minimise his true responsibility for his crimes.
“Police officers are here to protect people. To be courageous and compassionate. His actions were the exact opposite of that.
“As Commissioner I will do everything in my power to ensure we learn any lessons.
“I know that what happened to Sarah, and what has happened to other women in London and beyond in recent times, has raised important questions about women’s safety.
“Here in the Met I commit to keep working with others to improve women’s safety and reduce the fear of violence.
“There are no words that can express the fury and overwhelming sadness that we all feel about what happened to Sarah. I am so sorry.”
'No woman should fear violence'
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his sadness over the death of Everard.
He sought to reassure concerned members of the public, particularly women, who may be concerned for their safety after the abduction, rape and murder.
Mr Johnson said the government would “do everything possible to prevent these abhorrent crimes” in the future.
“There are no words that adequately express the horror of Sarah’s murder,” he said on Twitter.
“Like the rest of the country I have been sickened by what we have heard over the course of this sentencing and the pain and suffering endured by her family and friends is truly unimaginable.
“Our police are there to protect us – and I know that officers will share in our shock and devastation at the total betrayal of this duty.
“People must be able to walk on our streets without fear of harm and with full confidence that the police are there to keep them safe.
“No woman should have to fear harassment or violence.
“We will do everything possible to prevent these abhorrent crimes and keep our communities safe.”
'Disgrace to police force'
The Police Federation said “predator” Couzens was “an absolute disgrace to the police service”.
The former firearms officer had finished a 12-hour shift guarding embassies hours before he kidnapped Everard.
He was sacked by the Metropolitan Police in July after admitting to abducting, raping and murdering the marketing executive.
John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said he felt ashamed that Couzens was an officer.
“This predator is an absolute disgrace to the police service, and I am totally ashamed that he was ever a police officer,” he said.
“I am proud to carry a warrant card, but this vile individual’s abuse of that authority has cast a shadow on all those who work within policing. He has brought disgrace to our uniform.
“The way he took advantage of Sarah’s trust makes me feel sick to the stomach.
“No sentence will ever ease the pain for the family and friends of Sarah or undo the terrible damage this disgusting man has done. He doesn’t deserve to have another single day of freedom and I hope every day he spends in prison is a long one.”