Wayne Couzens sentenced for exposing himself to female cyclist while on duty

Wayne Couzens is serving a whole-life fee for the murder of Sarah Everard – Metropolitan Police/AFP via Getty Images

Wayne Couzens exposed himself to a female cyclist while he was on duty and supposed to be working from home just months before he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard, it has emerged.

The incident, which occurred in November 2020, took place in an isolated part of rural Kent just a few miles from where he took Miss Everard after kidnapping her from south London on March 3 2021.

Couzens, who was a member of Scotland Yard’s armed Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection unit, was due to be working at home in Deal, Kent on Nov 13 2020.

But that afternoon, while he was supposed to be on duty, he drove to Ringwould Road, an isolated rural lane between Deal and Dover, where he exposed himself to a lone female cyclist.

Details of the incident emerged when Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey via videolink for a sentencing hearing after pleading guilty to three offenses of indecent exposure.

The other offenses took place at a McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant in Swanley, Kent just days before he abducted Miss Everard.

Mrs Justice May sentenced Couzens to 19 months for the indecent exposure in rural Kent and six months each for the offenses at McDonald’s. The sentences are to be served concurrently, meaning the total sentence is one of 19 months.

Sarah Everard Wayne Couzens - Family Handout/CPS/PA Wire

Sarah Everard Wayne Couzens – Family Handout/CPS/PA Wire

Setting out the details of the first of the offenses, Tom Little KC said: “On the afternoon of 13 November [complainant 1] was cycling along Ringwould Road. It is an isolated narrow rural lane in Kent. It runs approximately parallel to and about two miles inland from the Kent Coast between Deal and Dover.

“It is only a few miles from where the defendant took Sarah Everard, having kidnapped her and after he had moved her from one vehicle to another in Dover.

“As [complainant 1] was cycling on an uphill section of Ringwould Road, the defendant stepped out of the woodland and stood on a bank above her as she approached.”

He added: “The defendant was totally naked. He was masturbating his exposed penis and did so while he was looking at [complainant 1].

“She felt she had no choice but to continue cycling past him because of the road layout. There were no words exchanged between them. She had a clear view of him and clearly remembered what he looked like.”

Mr Little said a little further along the road, the victim cycled past a black car that was parked in an unusual spot and she recalled part of the number plate.

The victim then came across two women whom she told about the incident and one of them said she was a police officer who said she would take a look.

The victim reported the incident to Kent Police online, providing a description of the defendant and the partial car registration, but Mr Little said the force had been unable to progress the investigation without the full number plate.

‘Instant shock’

The court heard that on March 11 2021, following Couzens’ arrest for the kidnap and murder of Miss Everard, the victim’s husband showed her a picture of the defendant.

Mr Little said: “She felt instant shock at seeing the picture and said she was 90 per cent sure it was him who had masturbated in front of her. She subsequently attended an identification procedure and identified the defendant was the person who had exposed himself to her.”

The barrister went on: “Further inquiries have confirmed that the defendant was due to be working from home (in Deal) on 13 November 2020 between 8am and 4pm. It follows that he was on duty at the time of the offense.”

Mr Little said that cell site analysis of Couzens’ mobile phone also showed that he had spent about one-and-a-half hours at the same spot on the morning of Nov 13 “again when theoretically working from home”.

Exposure at fast food drive-thru

The other offenses to which Couzens pleaded guilty took place in February 2021 at the McDonald’s drive-thru in Swanley.

The court heard that on Feb 14, he had been on a rest day, but left his home in Deal at around 8.20pm and drove to London where he briefly visited his Metropolitan Police base in Lillie Road.

Mr Little said: “He was not on duty that evening and his visit remains entirely unexplained on Valentine’s Day. However, his journey is not dissimilar to the night on which he kidnapped Sarah Everard.”

At about 11.41pm, he visited the McDonald’s restaurant where he ordered a white coffee and a double cheeseburger.

When he drove to the payment windows, the member of staff saw that he had his penis pulled above the waistband of his shorts.

Another member of staff who handed him his order also spotted that he was exposing himself.

The two members of staff reported the incident to their manager, who took details of the credit card receipt but did not at that stage report the matter to the police.

On Feb 27, Couzens had been working a day shift in London and set off to drive home after finishing at 7pm.

At around 8.30pm, he again stopped off at McDonald’s where he placed an order for a coffee, an orange juice, two double cheeseburgers and medium fries.

When he approached the window in his car to collect the order, the female member of staff noticed he was naked from the waist down and his erect penis was exposed.

The victim immediately reported the matter to her manager who recorded the vehicle registration and contacted the police.

Mr Little said: “A telephone call was made to the police on the afternoon of the following day. During that call, the police were informed of the details of the car and the fact that the last four digits of the MasterCard matched with the incident two weeks before.

“However, the defendant was not spoken to in advance of the events of 3 March 2021.”

Incident left a ‘dark stain’

In a victim impact statement, the complainant in the Kent offense said the incident had left a “dark stain” on her life and she had since been diagnosed with PTSD.

The victim added: “I am aware that for some, indecent exposure is viewed as a minor offense. But research shows that this is a progressive form of behavior. I remember vividly being concerned that somebody who could expose themselves to a stranger in such an intimidating way could go on to commit much more serious acts.

“This is what happened. Four months after you exposed yourself to me, you raped and murdered an innocent woman.

“There were opportunities to identify you and they were not taken. I did not feel that, when I reported your crime, it was taken as seriously as I felt that it should have been. The horror of what happened will remain with me for the rest of my life.”

She went on: “Currently our society, and some police forces, do not, in my experience, take this crime as seriously as they should. When you should have been acting professionally and protecting the public, you were gratifying yourself and abusing your position.

“Your behaviour, and the subsequent failure by Kent police, have seriously eroded my confidence in the police in general.”

In her witness impact statement, the second woman said: “My perspective of the police has been altered significantly. Prior to this, I did not have a firm opinion of the police as I have been fortunate enough not to require them.

“However, now while I know the police have a duty of care, my trust in the police to treat me well has been diminished. I do not like to tar everyone with the same brush, but it has been difficult not to do so after knowing what he did for a living and knowing I could have come across him in uniform and not known what he was capable of.”

Faith in the police ‘shattered’

The third victim, who tearfully read her impact statement to the court also said her faith in the police had been shattered.

She said: “After all this time, I have seen more and more officers found involved in illegal activities. The people we are supposed to trust. I had not previously had many dealings with the police. After finding out what Wayne Couzens did for a living, it has caused me to be more wary of taking things like that trust at face value.

“It made me realize that police officers are ordinary people, some of whom could be a threat instead of trying to protect me.

“This indecent exposure incident was reported on Sunday. I had no one contact me or ask for a statement. It was only after Sarah’s murder that I became involved. If he had been held accountable when we had reported the crime, we could have saved Sarah.”

Couzens has pleaded guilty to three offenses of indecent exposure, with other charges left on file.

The sentencing hearing was taking place before Mrs Justice May, with Couzens appearing from HMP Frankland, where he is serving a whole life sentence for the kidnap, murder and rape of Miss Everard.

Members of Miss Everard’s family were also watching the sentencing hearing via video link.

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