Wayne Couzens: What a whole-life order means and other evil London killers who’ll never leave prison

Wayne Couzens was today (September 30) sentenced to a whole-life order for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

A whole life term, or whole life order, means that there is no minimum term set by a judge and the person is never eligible for release. It differs from a life sentence, under which the prisoner is given a number of years they must spend in jail before they will be eligible to apply for parole.

The judge at the Old Bailey told Couzens, 48, that: “You have eroded the confidence the public are entitled to have [in the police] and it is critical that every subject in this country can trust police when they encounter them.”

MyLondon’s full coverage of the sentencing – follow the live blog here for all the updates.

Whole life orders have been issued in just 100 cases since their introduction into the judicial system in 1983, and as of 2017 there are believed to be at least 75 prisoners currently serving those sentences in England and Wales.

Some of London’s most notorious criminals, including Levi Bellfield, Dennis Nilsen, Victor Castigador, Viktor Dembovskis, Michael Adebolajo and more were also handed whole life terms for their crimes, some of whom have already died in jail.

Wayne Couzens was sentenced at the Old Bailey today, September 30

Victor Castigador

Victor Castigador was an illegal Filipino immigrant who killed two people in a ‘grudge attack’ at an amusement arcade in Soho in 1989.

Castigador had worked at the arcade after he arrived in the UK, and had fallen out with the owner and planned a robbery.

He and a gang of people tied up four members of staff, locked them in a cage within the vault, doused them in white spirit and set them alight.

Two of the members of staff died, and two suffered serious burns.

After being sentenced to a whole-life tariff for his crime – he was initially sentenced to a 25-year tariff that was extended – he admitted to the murder of a fellow inmate in 2016 and was sentenced to another whole-life order.

He died in Woodhill Prison in Milton Keynes in 2017.

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Stephen Port

Serial killer Stephen Port who was found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering four young gay men to fulfil his depraved sexual fantasies

Serial killer Stephen Port who was found guilty at the Old Bailey of murdering four young gay men to fulfil his depraved sexual fantasies

Stephen Port, known as ‘The Grindr Killer’, murdered Gabriel Kovari, 22, from Lewisham; Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, Kent; Anthony Walgate, 23, from Dagenham, East London; and Jack Taylor, 25, also from Dagenham.

Between August 2014 and September 2015, he met his victims on dating websites, including Grindr, and had them come to his home in Barking for sex before giving them fatal doses of drugs.

Their bodies were all found dumped in or near a graveyard within 500 metres of his house.

He was also convicted of raping four others.

The Judge said that he had carried out the murders to “satisfy his lust for sex with young men who were rendered unconscious”, and gave him a whole-life term in 2016.

Viktor Dembovskis

Viktor Dembovskis raped and murdered a 17-year-old female neighbour as she walked home from school in Greenford, West London, in May 2005.

Her body was discovered eight days later, and it was found that she had been strangled, raped then stabbed to death.

Dembovskis then fled back to his native Latvia, where he had a string of convictions stretching back 25 years including two rapes in the 1990s.

According to reports from the time, jurors took three hours to find Dembovskis guilty of murder and two counts of rape.

He was given a whole-life sentence in 2006.

Dennis Nilsen

Photo dated November 4, 1983 of mass murderer Dennis Nilsen (right), with a prison warden at his side, after he was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years imprisonment after being convicted of six murders and two attempted murders at the Old Bailey

Photo dated November 4, 1983 of mass murderer Dennis Nilsen (right), with a prison warden at his side, after he was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years imprisonment after being convicted of six murders and two attempted murders at the Old Bailey

Dennis Nilsen, the ‘Muswell Hill Murderer’, murdered at least twelve young men and boys between 1978 and 1983 in North London.

His victims were lured to two addresses in North London by deception and were strangled to death, sometimes accompanied by drowning.

After each murder, Nilsen would follow a ritual in which he bathed and dressed the victim’s body, kept it for an extended period of time, before dissecting and disposing of the remains by burning them in a bonfire or flushing them down the toilet.

He was arrested after workmen investigating a blocked, foul-smelling drain found human flesh.

He was initially recommended a 25-year minimum term in November 1983, but successive Home Secretaries decided that he should never be released from prison. He died in 2018 while still serving his sentence.

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John McGrady

John McGrady strangled and mutilated his 15-year-old neighbour, Rochelle Holness, in Catford in September 2005.

He dumped her dismembered remains in bin bags, confessed to his girlfriend after the attack and attempted to commit suicide.

He admitted the murder in court and had previous convictions for raping and kidnapping women.

McGrady was given a whole-life sentence in 2006 and later appealed for a lower minimum term to be set by the Court of Appeal.

This was rejected in January 2007.

Levi Bellfield

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Levi Bellfield was given a whole life order for his murders

Notorious serial killer Levi Bellfield, also known as ‘The Bus Stop Stalker’ attacked three young women – killing two and seriously injuring the third – in ‘sexually-motivated attacks’ in London and Surrey from February 2003 to August 2004.

He was first arrested in November 2004, before being re-arrested and charged in March 2006.

After he was convicted of the initial murders, Surrey Police identified him as the prime suspect in the murder of Amanda ‘Milly’ Dowler in Walton-on-Thames in 2002.

Her body was found in Hampshire six months after she went missing on her way home from school.

He was charged with the murder three years later and found guilty in June 2011.

Bellfield was also identified as a suspect – but never charged – over other unsolved murders and attacks on young women in South East England since the early 1990s.

He’s currently the only prisoner in the UK who has been sentenced to two separate whole-life orders for two separate crimes.

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John Sweeney

The ‘Canal Killer’ John Sweeney murdered and dismembered two former girlfriends before dumping their remains in canals in Rotterdam and London in 1990 and 2001.

He killed Melissa Halstead, 33, a former model from Ohio in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Paula Fields, 31, a mother-of-three in North London.

The victims’ heads were removed, meaning it could not be ascertained exactly how they were killed.

His Rotterdam victim was not identified until 2008 after Dutch detectives carried out a cold case review and matched familial DNA.

Sweeney’s London victim was found in the Regent’s Canal near King’s Cross in 2001, with 10 body parts found in six holdall bags.

Her head, hands and feet were missing.

At the time he was served his whole life order, he was already serving a life sentence for the attempted murder of a third girlfriend, whom he attacked with an axe and a knife.

His whole life sentence was served to him in 2011.

Michael Adebolajo

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Michael Adebolajo (left) and Michael Adebowale (right) killed Lee Rigby in 2013. Adebolajo is serving a whole-life sentence

Michael Adebolajo was sentenced to a whole-life order for the murder of soldier Lee Rigby near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich in May 2013.

He and his accomplice, Michael Adebowale, spotted Lee wearing a Help for Heroes hoodie and mowed him down in their car.

They then jumped out and attacked him with knives and a meat cleaver, with Adebolajo trying to behead him with a knife.

Both men were Muslim converts and were found guilty of Lee’s murder in December 2013.

Adebolajo was given a whole-life term, while Adebowale received a 45-year minimum term meaning he’s unlikely to be released until at least 2058, when he’ll be 67.

MyLondon’s full coverage of the sentencing – follow the live blog here for all the updates.

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