The police officer who murdered Sarah Everard has appeared in court at the Old Bailey as his sentencing begins.
48-year-old Wayne Couzens pleaded guilty to the murder, kidnap and rape of Everard on March 3rd.
The court heard how Couzens falsely arrested Everard after accusing her of breaking the COVID-19 lockdown.
33-year-old Everard was walking home from a friend's house in Clapham, South London when she was abducted by Couzens, who went on to rape her before strangling her to death and setting her body on fire.
Everard's remains were discovered a week later close to land owned by Couzens in Kent.
"Whilst it is impossible to summarise what the defendant did to Sarah Everard in just five words, if it had to be done then it would be more appropriate to do so as deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire," said Prosecutor Tom Little QC.
A former boyfriend of Everard told the court that she was "not a gullible person" and would not get into a stranger's car unless "by force or manipulation."
"The fact she had been to a friend’s house for dinner at the height of the early 2021 lockdown made her more vulnerable to and more likely to submit to an accusation that she had acted in breach of the Covid regulations in some way," Little said.
The court heard how Couzens had hired a car before abducting Everard.
There was "no credible alternative explanation for his need to hire a car other than to use that car to kidnap and rape a lone woman," Little said. "His movements were consistent with the defendant looking for, or hunting, for a lone young female to kidnap and rape, which is precisely what he did."
The court was told of a passenger who witnessed Couzens placing Everard in handcuffs, but that they assumed he was an undercover officer making an arrest.
"They were in fact witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard," Little said. "She was detained by fraud. The defendant using his warrant card and handcuffs as well as his other police issue equipment to affect a false arrest."
Scotland Yard condemned Couzens in a statement released before the sentencing.
"We are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s crimes which betray everything we stand for," the statement read. "Our thoughts are with Sarah’s family and her many friends. It is not possible for us to imagine what they are going through. We recognise his actions raise many questions and concerns but we will not be commenting further until the hearing is complete."