'Women should not put their lives on hold' and men should not all be 'tarred with the same brush' following Sarah Everard murder resulting in whole life sentence for Wayne Couzens
WOMEN should ‘not put their lives on hold’ following the whole life sentence handed to a Met Police officer for the brutal murder of Sarah Everard, a female campaigner has said.
Wayne Couzens, 48, was told he will spend the rest of his life in jail following his sentencing at the Old Bailey.
Lord Justice Fulford described the circumstances of the murder as ‘grotesque’ and ‘devastating, tragic and wholly brutal’ after passing down the sentence
Couzens had used his police warrant card and handcuffs to snatch the 33-year-old marketing executive as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3, 2021.
The ruthless killing has stirred emotions from many in the community - with women relating to feeling vulnerable when walking alone late at night.
Charlene Maines, who launched International Women’s Day in Leigh Park, admitted she was ‘shocked’ after hearing about the ‘horrific’ murder but called for perspective.
‘Things happen quite a lot to women and I have a daughter myself so I do worry,’ she said. ‘But I still have faith in the police. It was an isolated incident and we should keep reporting things to make sure women are safe in public.
‘I will not put my life on hold just because Wayne Couzens managed to take someone’s life.’
But the mum admitted she does have concerns when walking alone. ‘I do look over my shoulder,’ she said. ‘It can be quite scary. But we need to make sure we don’t paint all men as abusers and keep our balance.
‘This case showed it could be anyone in the community who commits these sort of crimes so it is important we all look out for each other.
‘A lot of men are being blamed - and education is needed - but men have been very good to me. We cannot tar all police and men with the same brush.’
Rick Christie runs Head Hairdressing for Men in Albert Road, Southsea, and was part of the ‘Safe Space’ scheme in the city to support victims of domestic abuse.
He admitted the Sarah Everard case was difficult to follow but is determined to help those in need. ‘I found it upsetting hearing about the case,’ he said. ‘When you hear of things like that it makes you want to do good things to help and alleviate that upset.
‘Some people are not as lucky as other people so it is important we help those not so fortunate. It is important we show compassion to those in need. There is a lot of anger and frustration around at the moment.’
A mum, who fled her home due to domestic violence before being relocated from a refuge to Leigh Park, said: ‘The sentence is obviously good news and shows the police try to take seriously any domestic violence or murder whereas previously they have been quite lenient. It won’t bring Sarah back though.
‘A lot of people turn a blind eye to domestic violence, though, and people do not want to get involved. People do not want to report crime as they feel it will not go anywhere or out of fear they might lose their children.
‘Higher sentences for things like assaults and grievous bodily harm will make people think twice.’
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The survivor also questioned why Shane Mays was not given a whole life sentence for the murder of Louise Smith in Havant after being given at least 25 years. ‘The sentence should have been the same (as Couzens),’ she said.
‘Maybe they wanted to make more of an example out of (Couzens) because he was a police officer.’
Hampshire police and crime commissioner Donna Jones said: ‘These were horrific crimes committed by what can only be described as a monster of a man. Unfortunately Sarah is just one of hundreds of women who are murdered by men each year in Britain.
‘Violence against women and girls has now become an epidemic. Thankfully policing responses have improved in recent years as has the culture within policing. What is needed now is a whole system approach to tackling the wider societal issues and behaviours towards violence to women and girls.
‘I very much support the Serious Violence Duty proposed through the new police crown court sentencing bill. We now need to decide if we need a victim’s code across the country.’