On the surface Wayne Couzens was a dedicated police officer and a devoted family man who was never happier than when playing with his children or tinkering with his Ducati motorcycle.
But underneath the veneer of respectability was a sexual deviant who, fuelled by extreme pornography, was driven to ever more depraved actions to slake his desires.
Despite being an armed officer tasked with protecting politicians, dignitaries and VIPs, Couzens admitted regularly cavorting with prostitutes and was also suspected of taking dangerous body-building steroids.
While he made every effort to hide his dark behaviour from his colleagues, questions will inevitably now be asked about the Met’s vetting and monitoring procedures that failed to spot his descent into crime.
Just three days before abducting, raping and murdering Miss Everard, Couzens allegedly flashed two female members of staff at a McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant in Swanley, Kent.
Tragically, despite CCTV cameras identifying his car, he was not arrested for the alleged offence until it was too late.
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of serving police constable Wayne Couzens, making his first appearance at the Old Bailey by video link from Belmarsh top security jail in south London
Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire
His appalling actions have not only devastated the family and friends of his victim, Sarah Everard, but have also torn apart the lives of those who were closest to him – including his Ukrainian born wife and two children.
Born in Dover, Kent, in 1972, Couzens was the eldest of two boys, whose father ran a body shop and garage.
After leaving school, both Couzens and his younger brother joined their father working in the business.
A former receptionist at the family-run garage said Couzens was kind, thoughtful and charming and she could not believe that he was the same person who had abducted, raped and killed Sarah Everard.
‘There was no sign he could be like that’
She said: “Wayne was lovely to work with. He was a really nice chap. He was thoughtful and friendly and got on with his work.
“I was the only lady who worked there because it was a garage, but he was always polite and respectful towards me. When he was arrested for the poor girl’s murder I was completely shocked.
“I just thought ‘what can have happened to change him that way, what could have triggered him to do that? There was absolutely no sign he could be like that when I knew him.
“The Wayne I remember was kind and thoughtful, so when he was arrested I was absolutely stunned. Something must have happened to him after he joined the police.”
Her husband added: “He didn’t come from a dysfunctional family. His father was a well-liked local businessman and family man, his uncle, Roy, was a prominent member of the Dover Lifeboat team, his younger brother also became a policeman. They were all respectable members of the community. How he turned out to do what he did is a mystery.”
The former receptionist, now in her 70s, worked at the BCB garage set up by Mr Couzens Snr for a number of years until 2002. Couzens worked there as a light vehicle body repair technician until 2011, when he followed in his younger brother’s footsteps and left to join the police.
From Army reservist to the Met
Becoming a police officer had been an ambition he had harboured for many years and between 2005 and 2009 he volunteered as a Special Sergeant with his local Kent force. He also served as an Army reservist for two years, where he developed a fascination for firearms.
In 2011 he was finally accepted by the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), an armed police force tasked with guarding the country’s atomic power network.
After undergoing initial firearms training he was posted to the Sellafield reprocessing site in Cumbria, where he spent eight months before transferring to the Dungeness Nuclear Power station close to home in Kent.
But after seven years of unblemished service with the force he applied for a transfer to the Metropolitan Police.
Couzens followed in his younger brother’s footsteps and joined the police
Credit: Kent Messenger / SWNS
Despite the fact his new role would require a four-hour round commute, Couzens was ambitious to take his career to the next level.
Having already qualified as a firearms officer with the CNC, he was able to directly join the force’s armed Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command based at Empress State Building in West Brompton.
His duties involved providing armed protection to some of the capital’s high-target embassies.
It was after joining the Met that Couzens reportedly became obsessed with bodybuilding and working out in the gym.
Colleagues noted that he became big very quickly, leading to speculation that he may have been abusing steroids.
One former Scotland Yard armed officer, who was sacked from the force, said such behaviour was not unknown.
“The gym is a big part of the culture among some of the lads. They are naturally competitive and they like to get big so the temptation can be there to dabble in steroids. There are some pictures of Couzens where his arms are huge so it would not surprise me at all.”
Couzens met his Ukrainian wife in 2006 on the internet and the pair began dating online, messaging one another regularly.
She was working in Switzerland at the time and after meeting in person they got engaged and Couzens travelled to Ukraine to meet her family.
After marrying in her home country, they settled in the UK, where his university-educated wife secured a job as a laboratory manager at a scientific company in Kent.
The couple had two children, a boy and a girl, now aged 10 and eight, who Couzens appeared to dote on, according to neighbours.
The family settled in Deal rather than his native Dover to be nearer his 70-year-old mother so she could help with childcare.
A ‘wonderful family man’
Couzens’ Ukrainian mother-in-law was full of praise for her daughter’s hard-working husband and his devotion to their children.
Speaking to the Telegraph from her home in Kirovograd, 300 miles south of Kiev, after his arrest, Nina Sukhoreba, said: “He is a wonderful family man, a wonderful man. He is a wonderful father. He came to visit with the children and we all walked to the river and he helped me at home and in the garden.”
Following their wedding, the couple visited Ukraine every year and Couzens was even studying the language in order to communicate more easily with her wider extended family.
Couzens’ brother-in-law, Vitaly Obuhov, said the family had not been able to process what had happened, but had spoken to Couzens on Skype on March 1, just two days before Mis Everard was abducted and killed.
He said: “He seemed fine when we spoke to him. There were no issues at all. This is all so shocking. He is an extremely warm person, very polite and calm. I have never seen him treating my sister or children badly. It is hard to believe he was capable of what he did.”
But privately Couzens is suspected of having a dangerous addiction to extreme pornography.
Just 39 minutes before he was arrested, Couzens wiped all the data from his mobile phone and was also spotted by neighbours throwing an SD memory card out of the upstairs window.
Couzens was also close to his late uncle Roy, a key member of the Dover lifeboat station where he was operations manager.
Couzens being presented with an award
He was awarded an RNLI Silver Medal for gallantry for his part in the rescue of three freight ship crewmen during the 1987 hurricane which swept across southern England.
A fundraiser and volunteer for Dover Lifeboat Station who knew Roy Couzens before his death in October 2020, aged 73, said: “To be honest it’s a relief that Roy died before his nephew killed that poor girl.
“He would have been absolutely devastated that any relative of his had done such a terrible thing. His father is very ill now and I know he was absolutely shattered by what happened. It’s been terrible for the family.”
Locals in Deal who knew Couzens and his wife described them as being the perfect family who were completely devoted to their two children.
One neighbour said: “They were just an ordinary family, they were friendly and chatty and seemed very happy
“You would sometimes see Wayne in his uniform so we knew he was a policeman. He was also a biker and would often be tinkering with his bike in the garage.”