Wayne Couzens feels remorse for ‘abhorrent’ crimes and ‘should have sentence reduced’, court told

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Watch: Court of Appeal to review Wayne Couzens and other killers’ sentences

Wayne Couzens feels remorse for killing Sarah Everard and should have his sentence reviewed, his lawyer has told a court.

The former Met Police Officer was handed a whole-life term last year for the rape and murder of 33-year-old Ms Everard after he abducted her in south London in March 2021.

On Wednesday, senior judges heard challenges or appeals to the prison sentences of five killers, including Couzens who appeared via videolink from HMP Frankland.

His barrister Jim Sturman QC said: “Mr Couzens accepts that his crimes are abhorrent and nothing I say in any way is intended to minimise them or to minimise the impact of these crimes on Sarah Everard’s family and huge circle of friends.”

He told the High Court it was accepted that Couzens deserved “decades in jail” but argued a whole-life term was excessive.

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Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Jordan Monaghan (left) and Wayne Couzens as they view, via videolink, a hearing at the High Court in London where senior judges are hearing challenges or appeals to the sentences of five killers including the whole-life terms of disgraced former police officer Couzens and double murderer Ian Stewart. Picture date: Wednesday May 4, 2022.
Court artist sketch showing Jordan Monaghan (left) and Wayne Couzens, who appeared at court via videolink. (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Couzens was jailed after strangling Ms Everard with his police belt after kidnapping her using COVID lockdown regulations to make a “false arrest”.

Speaking at his sentencing at the Old Bailey last September, Lord Justice Fulford described the murder as "devastating, tragic and wholly brutal".

He described the circumstances of the killing as “grotesque”, saying the seriousness of the case was so “exceptionally high” that it warranted a whole life order.

Justice Fulford added: “The misuse of a police officer’s role such as occurred in this case in order to kidnap, rape and murder a lone victim is of equal seriousness as a murder for the purpose of advancing a political, religious ideological cause.”

It was the first time the sentence had been imposed for a single murder of an adult not committed in the course of a terror attack.

Read more: Man who tortured his own baby son is held hostage and attacked in prison

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, Dame Victoria Sharp, Lord Justice Holroyde, Mr Justice Sweeney and Mr Justice Johnson at a hearing at the High Court in London. The senior judges will hear challenges or appeals to the sentences of five killers including the whole-life terms of disgraced former police officer Couzens and double murderer Ian Stewart. Picture date: Wednesday May 4, 2022.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, Dame Victoria Sharp, Lord Justice Holroyde, Mr Justice Sweeney and Mr Justice Johnson at a hearing at the High Court in London. (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Mr Sturman said the sentencing judge’s finding that the former PC was not remorseful was “untenable”.

Discussing Couzens’ behaviour at the sentencing hearing, the barrister said: “He was too ashamed to meet anyone’s eye.”

Mr Sturman said it was “no part” of his arguments that Couzens should receive a life sentence with a minimum term and only serve half, but that he would serve at least the minimum term.

The barrister added: “The combination of his remorse and his guilty pleas… should balance out that aggravating factor which clearly exists, of him being a police officer, albeit off-duty in half uniform.”

Tom Little QC, representing the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and Crown Prosecution Service, said Couzens’ offending was of the “utmost seriousness”, adding: “His criminality was, as found by the judge, a fundamental attack in reality on our democratic way of life.”

Arthur Labinjo Hughes died from unsurvivable brain injuries. (SWNS)
Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes killed six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (SWNS)
Ian Stewart was given a whole life order. (PA)
Ian Stewart was given a whole life order. (PA)

Double killer Ian Stewart, who was convicted of murdering his first wife six years before he went on to murder his fiancee, also appealed against his whole-life order.

Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes, who killed six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in June 2020, also had their sentences reviewed on Wednesday.

Arthur suffered an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of Tustin, who was jailed for life with a minimum term of 29 years.

Tustin and Arthur’s father, Hughes, who was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter, appealed against the length of their sentences which are also being challenged as being unduly lenient.

The hearing also heard arguments over the sentence of Jordan Monaghan, who was handed a minimum term of 40 years at Preston Crown Court after he murdered two of his children and his new partner.

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