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Couzens deserves “decades in prison”, but an excessive life sentence, lawyer says

Wayne Couzens deserves “decades in jail”, his appeals attorney has said in the former police officer’s appeal against his life sentence.

The former PC was given a life sentence last year for the rape and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard after abducting her in south London on March 3, 2021.

It was the first time that the sentence had been handed down for a single murder of an adult not committed during a terrorist attack.

On Wednesday, senior justices heard challenges or appeals to the prison sentences of five killers, including the life sentences of Couzens and double murderer Ian Stewart.

The combination of his remorse and his guilty pleas…should outweigh this aggravating factor that clearly exists, the fact that he is a police officer, albeit on leave in half uniform.

Jim Sturman QC, Defense

A bearded Couzens, dressed in a gray sweater, appeared via video link from HMP Frankland at the start of the hearing for his appeal against his life sentence.

Members of Ms Everard’s family were present outside the Royal Courts of Justice when her appeal was heard.

Jim Sturman QC, for Couzens, said: “Mr Couzens accepts that his crimes are heinous and nothing I say is intended to downplay them or minimize the impact of these crimes on the family and the huge circle of ‘Friends of Sarah Everard.’

He told the court it was accepted that Couzens deserved “decades in prison”, but argued that a life sentence was excessive.

Mr Sturman added: ‘The combination of his remorse and guilty pleas…should outweigh this aggravating factor which clearly exists, the fact that he is a police officer, albeit on leave in half uniform.’

The lawyer told the court that Couzens was unique among the 64 people currently serving life sentences.

Couzens was imprisoned with a life sentence for the murder of Sarah Everard in March 2021 (Family handout/CPS)

(PA Media)

He said in written submissions: “While this may be viewed by the public and the court as a case of equal gravity to political, religious or ideological murder, it is not such an offence, it does not fall under any other category listed in the program.

Mr Sturman then argued that the police are not the only ones who can detain people, giving the example of a teacher who can detain vulnerable students.

He concluded: “There are many very unique and very horrific cases that come before the court…. but in our humble opinion, the court should think long and hard and step back from a whole life order in this case.

Tom Little QC, representing the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the Crown Prosecution Service, said Couzens’ offense was of the “most extreme gravity”, adding: “His criminality was, like the noted the judge, a fundamental attack in reality against our democratic system. way of life.”

“A police officer is in a unique position of power,” Mr Little said.

Mr Little said the sentencing judge provided a ‘clear and consistent rationale’ for the sentence he imposed.

“The judge was entitled to form the opinion he did in relation to a lack of genuine contrition,” he added.

Mr Little concluded: ‘The life order was the proper sentence to impose in this quite exceptional case.’