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Sarah Everard: Wayne Couzens To Be Sentenced For Kidnap, Rape And Murder

Sarah Everard: Wayne Couzens to be sentenced for kidnap, rape and murder

Met officer used police ID card and handcuffs to lure Everard into car before killing her and burning body

The former Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens is to be sentenced for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, amid calls for a formal law to set out the rights of victims.

Couzens, 48, used his police warrant card and handcuffs to lure Everard off the street before strangling her with his police belt and burning her body, depriving her family of the chance to say a final goodbye, a court heard.

Video footage released on Wednesday showed Couzens, then a serving Metropolitan police officer, staging a false arrest of Everard as she returned from a friend’s house in south London in March during a period of coronavirus lockdown measures.

Lord Justice Fulford will decide on the minimum length of Couzens’ life sentence on Thursday at the Old Bailey in central London.

Speaking on Thursday morning, the Labour leader reiterated his calls for a victims’ law, granting rights such as allowing them to challenge decisions over criminal investigations.

Keir Starmer also called for a review of how Couzens was allowed to remain in the police force despite concerns about his conduct.

“We’ve got to get to the bottom of how that happened,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “It looks as though there were some telltale signs; there was evidence, there were issues that should have been looked into properly, and they were not. And it is not vital that that review is done.

“But then there needs to be wider reform. I’ve been arguing for a victims’ law for years, since I was director of public prosecutions. One of the things I said in my speech yesterday – we have codes, we have support, but we have nothing in law that is there to support victims. I feel very, very strongly about it. And we need legislation on violence against women and girls.”

The full details of Couzens’ crimes were detailed for the first time at a hearing on Wednesday to decide whether he should be sentenced to die in jail. The prosecution said the crimes were so serious, involving the abuse of his position and trust as a police officer, they might merit him being sentenced to a whole-life tariff.

The offence of murder, which Couzens has admitted, carries a mandatory life sentence.

The defence will on Thursday morning argue against Couzens receiving a whole-life tariff for the ordeal he inflicted on Everard, a sentence reserved for the very worst offenders.

He handcuffed her in the backseat of his car and “that was the start of her lengthy ordeal, including an 80-mile journey [to Kent] while detained, which was to lead first to her rape and then her murder”, Tom Little QC told the Old Bailey.

“At some point fairly soon after driving from the pavement on to the South Circular and having not gone to a police station, Sarah Everard must have realised her fate.”

Everard’s mother, Susan, told the court she remained “tormented” at the thought of what her 33-year-old daughter endured.

Couzens kept his head bowed in court. Everard’s father, Jeremy, and other daughter, Katie, each asked that Couzens face them before they began addressing him directly. He lifted his head slightly but did not look at them.

Everard’s murder rocked Britain and led to an outcry over women’s safety on the streets. Police fear the full details of the crime will trigger growing revulsion and anger.

Couzens, 48, hired a car and bought adhesive tape before “hunting for a lone young female to kidnap and rape” as part of a premeditated mission on the night Everard was abducted, the prosecution told the court on the first day of a two-day sentencing hearing.

Little said Everard, a marketing executive, was seized on 3 March before being driven to Kent, where Couzens killed her and left her body in the countryside.

Couzens may have used the pretext that Everard had broken Covid lockdown regulations to stop her, the court heard. He had undertaken police Covid patrols and knew what language to use to those who may have breached the rules.

Couzens was off duty at the time but wore his police belt. He encountered Everard at about 9.30pm as she made what should have been a 50-minute walk home.

A woman who witnessed the start of Couzens’ kidnapping of Everard saw him handcuff her on the pavement. Little said the passerby thought she was witnessing an undercover police officer arresting a woman, whom she assumed “must have done something wrong”.

The witness then saw Couzens walking Everard, her hands cuffed behind her back, towards his car. Little said Everard may have been more vulnerable to an accusation of breaching Covid rules because she had been to a friend’s place for dinner during the lockdown.

In Kent the Met officer switched cars and raped his victim, the court heard. He then strangled Everard. “The defendant informed the psychiatrist that he strangled Sarah Everard using his belt. Given all the circumstances this would be consistent with his police belt,” Little told the court.

Couzens was caught on CCTV crisscrossing Kent after the murder, as he started hiding his crimes. He filled a can with petrol and set about burning Everard’s body in a field and “moved her body in green bags purchased specifically for that task”, Little said.

The court heard Couzens had tried to dispose of Everard’s mobile phone and that semen was found on her body. A fragment of her sim card was found in a car Couzens used.

Police released video of Couzens claiming to officers, when arrested at home, that he had kidnapped Everard because he was being threatened by a gang and was forced to hand her over to them. This was a lie, the prosecution said.

Everard’s body was recovered seven days after the abduction, from woodland near Ashford in Kent, about 20 miles west of Couzens’ home in Deal. It was hidden and wrapped in a builder’s bag Couzens had bought days earlier.

Everard was identified from her dental records. A postmortem showed she died from compression of the neck.

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EFCC arraigns forex broker for alleged N2b investment scam in Uyo

The Enugu Zonal Directorate of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Friday, July 19, 2024 arraigned one Rufus John Isip, a self-acclaimed forex broker before Justice C. S. Onah of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Isip was arraigned alongside his company, ITM-IT Resources Limited on an eight-count charge bordering on fraudulent conversion, money laundering and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N2, 022, 081, 172 (Two Billion, Twenty-two Million, Eighty-one Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy-two Naira).

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Rufus John Isip while being the Director of ITM-IT Resources Limited and ITM-IT Resources Limited sometime in December 2020 and May 2021 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of (431, 331, 172. 00) Four Hundred and Thirty-one Million, Three Hundred and Thirty-one Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy-two kobo from one Michael Okon, the Director of N-Rex Resources Limited under the false pretence that it is an investment in Vandera, an online investment platform, on his behalf, which pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act”.

Count eight of the charge reads: “That you, Rufus John Isip while being the Director of ITM-IT Resources Limited and ITM-IT Resources Limited sometime between December 2020 and May 2021 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, converted the total sum of (N730, 870, 000. 00) Seven Hundred and Thirty Million, Eight Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira to crypto currency (Bitcoin) and transferred same into your Binance Wallet knowing that the said money formed part of your unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 15 (3) (4) of the same Act”.

He pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him.

In view of his plea, Khamis Mahmud, counsel to the EFCC prayed the court to remand him in EFCC custody on the grounds that “we are still investigating him on other cases”.

The defence counsel, Samson Ewuje however, did not pose any objection.
Justice Onah adjourned the matter to October 14, 2024 for trial and the defendant was remanded at the Uyo Zonal Directorate of the EFCC.

Isip was arrested based on a petition from one Michael George, alleging that he lured him to invest in his online trading platform called Vandora.io. According to the petitioner, the defendant told him that it was more profitable to trade on his platform with a minimum trading capital of $100, 000. 00 (One Hundred Thousand Dollars) and that he would earn more profit if he involved more investors.

The petitioner thereafter invested, reached out to other investors and companies who also invested in the defendant’s phony online trading platform and after 60 days (as agreed) for the investors to start earning their profits, the defendant disappeared into thin air.

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EFCC presents more witness against Fayose in alleged N6.9bn fraud trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Friday, July 19, 2024, presented its 14th prosecution witness, PW14, Sahibu Salisu, a former Director of Administration and Finance, Office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, in the trial of alleged N6.9bn fraud involving a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and his company, Spotless Investment Limited, before Justice Chukujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC had, on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, re-arraigned Fayose and Spotless Investment Limited on an 11-count charge bordering on money laundering and stealing to the tune of N6.9bn ( Six Billion Nine Hundred Naira).

The defendants had first been arraigned on October 22, 2018 before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.

At the resumed sitting on Friday, Salisu told the court how he paid the sum of N200m and another N2billion to a firm, Sylvan MacNamara, for security purposes on the instruction of a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, the PW14 , who disclosed that he served as the Director of Administration and Finance between 2011 and 2015, explained the process of payment, saying, “ Once the NSA gave approval for payment, we processed it accordingly. The payments we made were mainly for operational activities.”

When asked to state the roles of the NSA Office , he said: “The roles of the NSA Office are purely about the security of the entire country. And any money expended on security was expected to be retired.”

When shown a document tagged Exhibit S, which was the payment voucher raised for the fund, he said: “It is the payment mandate raised by me as the Director of Administration and Finance on the NSA’s instruction. The first figure was N200 million in favour of Sylvan McNamara and it was paid to the company’s Diamond Bank account. It was the NSA who gave me the account details.”

He said though the NSA did not tell him the purpose for which it was meant, the memo raised and the mandate payment showed it was for physical security infrastructure. “All the payments made from the Office of NSA were supposed to be for security activities and security structures,” he said.

When asked who signed the payment mandate, he said: “I will sign my own part as signatory B. “Thereafter, I would take it to the NSA for final signature, which was approval. Then, I would take the mandate to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payment.”

Giving further testimony on the exhibit S, he said the former NSA and him appended their signatures on it. According to him, the payment was made and there should be retirement, after the purpose for which money was paid for had been completed. He, however, stated that “ Up till I left the office, I could not say whether or not the money was retired.”

When asked about the exhibit S1, which was payment to Sylvan McNamara to the tune of N2 billion dated June 13, 2014, he said: “We paid the amount of N2 billion to Sylvan McNamara on the instruction of the NSA. I was not a signatory to this account, so I am not in a position to know whether it was retired after payment. The NSA and former Permanent Secretary, Mr. Ibrahim Mahe, would be able to know whether it was retired or not”.

Salisu, under cross-examination by the counsel to the first defendant, Ola Olanipekun, SAN, testified that all payments made by the NSA office were made through the bank and they had to raise the mandate before it was done.

When asked if the former NSA told him that the N200m and N2bn were for security purposes, he said: “No. The NSA never informed me that the money was for security purposes and the NSA never complained about this payment.”

During cross-examination by the counsel to the second defendant, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, Salisu testified that he was familiar with financial regulations, adding that “In relation to retirement, once money is given to a recipient, you are supposed to bring the receipt of what you have been asked to supply with a memo attached to it. That is the retirement of such a fund-the financial regulations only apply to public servants.”
According to him, the schedules of his duties did not extend to security matters.

When asked if he knew what made the former NSA to first approve the payment of N200million and subsequently N2 billion for Sylvan McNamara, he said: “As I said earlier, all payments in the office of the NSA are for security purposes”. Also, when asked if he made a statement to the EFCC when he was invited during investigation, he said, “Yes”.

Thereafter, Ojo tendered the statement of the witness and was admitted by the court as exhibit A19. The witness also confirmed to the court that no one ever queried the instructions of the NSA.

Counsel to the first defendant, Ola Olanipekun, SAN, made an application before the court, seeking the permission of the court to allow his client travel abroad on health grounds. There was no objection from the prosecution counsel.

In his ruling, Justice Aneke granted Olanipekun’s request to enable his client travel abroad for medical check.

The case was adjourned to October 18, 2024 for continuation of trial.

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NSUK 300-Level student killed in foiled robbery attempt in Akwanga

A 300-level student of Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), Mustapha Osama, was reportedly killed in a foiled robbery attempt in Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

The incident occurred on Friday night around 8 PM along the Gudi-Akwanga road, according to sources.

Osama, who has been buried in Doma on Saturday morning according to Islamic rites, was said to have been hit by a bullet fired by the gunmen.

A family source confirmed that the deceased was driving when he was struck by the bullet.

The robbery attempt was thwarted by operatives of the Nigeria Police who responded immediately to a distress call, according to the state’s Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ramhan Nansel.

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