By Chris Summers 4 October 2021
Wayne Couzens is now one of only 74 prisoners in British jails who know for certain they will die in jail for their crimes.
But he is the only former police officer amid that select groups of psychopaths, paedophiles and terrorists.
Much has been written in the past few days about the police’s response to the “epidemic” of what has been called “male violence” – or more accurately male-on-female violence – and indeed whether society, and the patriarchy in particular, is responsible for deep-rooted attitudes towards women which can manifest itself in such horrific crimes.
It is unclear whether male-on-female violence is actually worse today than it was in the 1920s, 1950s, 1980s or even the 2000s.
In March 1953 John Reginald Halliday Christie, 53, was arrested near Putney Bridge in south west London.
Christie had murdered six women at his shabby home in Notting Hill, west London, hiding their bodies behind panels in the kitchen.
Like Couzens he was a former police officer and, like Couzens, he suffered from erectile dysfunction.
Prosecutor, Tom Little QC, told the Old Bailey this week that a penis pump was found amid Couzens’ possessions and he also speculated that 14 hairbands which the killer bought on the night of the murder may have been used to “retain an erection” during the rape of Sarah Everard.
Christie was nicknamed “Reggie No Dick” as a teenager because of his impotence and the problem may have triggered bouts of misogynistic hatred.
But he grew into a respected and authoritarian figure and so convincing was Christie that in 1950 his neighbour Timothy Evans was hanged for murdering his wife and child despite glaring inconsistencies in Christie’s own account of how they died.
There can be little doubt that, if he had not been caught for abducting, raping and killing Sarah Everard, Couzens would have killed again and would have possibly exceeded Christie’s tally of victims.
The fact that Couzens did not become a serial killer is partly due to the good detective work of Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin and partly because there are so many technological leads out there for the police to pursue.
Not only are there police and local authority CCTV cameras all over south London and Kent but footage can also be obtained from CCTV outside private homes and businesses, dashcams and bus cameras.
Then there are ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras which are posted on motorways and many other urban roads, helping to track where a vehicle was on a certain time and date.
Mobile phones are rarely out of our hands and, when they are on, they connect to the nearest transmitter. This “cellsiting” is used by police to trace criminals and to get convictions.
All these elements were used to bring Couzens to justice as well as the biggest game-changer in the world of policing – DNA.
With an overwhelming pile of forensic evidence stacked against him, Couzens knew the game was up and pleaded guilty to kidnap and rape, and then a few weeks later to murder.
His QC, Jim Sturman, sought to offer these guilty pleas as mitigation and said Couzens could have used his police knowledge to mount a “wicked defence.”
Sturman suggested his client be given a minimum tariff of 35-37 years.
But the judge, Lord Justice Fulford, was having none of it.
Sentencing him to a whole life tariff he said: “In this country it is expected that the police will act in the public interest; indeed, the authority of the police is to a truly significant extent dependent on the public’s consent, and the power of officers to detain, arrest and otherwise control important aspects of our lives is only effective because of the critical trust that we repose in the constabulary, that they will act lawfully and in the best interests of society.”
“If that is undermined, one of the enduring safeguards of law and order in this country is inevitably jeopardised,” he added.
If Couzens had been around in 1953 he probably would have killed many more women and, if he had finally been caught, he would have been executed.
But he could have escaped justice, like another London serial killer whose identity has never been established.
Eight women – all sex workers – were murdered in the Hammersmith and Acton area of west London between 1959 and 1965.
The killer was dubbed Jack The Stripper because the bodies were left naked but the killings stopped suddenly and the culprit – who no doubt also bore a hatred of women – was never brought to justice.
Violent misogynism is not a new phenomena and evil creatures like Couzens have always existed.
Male-on-female violence is also not a new phenomena and has probably always existed.
But that is not to say nothing can or should be done about the victimisation of women by men.
It is inexcusable, whether it is from a husband, a boyfriend or a complete stranger.
Education is probably the key and it will take many years to stamp it out. But it can be done. And it should be done.