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Wayne Couzens’ whole-life tariff explained as sentence only used for most heinous crimes

Sarah Everard’s murderer Wayne Couzens joins a list of 60 other criminals who have been given a whole-life term in jail – a sentence reserved for the most serious of offences which fall into five categories

Wayne Couzens joins 60 other notorious criminals serving whole-life terms in British jails with the rare sentence the most severe punishment available in the UK criminal justice system.

It is reserved for those who commit the most serious crimes including serial killings and politically-motivated murders.

Some of Britain’s most infamous murderers are among those who have been told they will die behind bars.

They include Lee Rigby’s murderer Michael Adebolajo, cop killer Dale Cregan and Mark Bridger, who killed April Jones.

Serial killer Levi Bellfield is the only criminal in UK legal history to be serving two whole-life orders.

Other notorious criminals serving whole-life orders include neo-Nazi Thomas Mair, who killed Labour MP Jo Cox.

Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, and doctor Harold Shipman also served whole-life sentences.

In the past, home secretaries could issue whole-life tariffs but these are now determined by judges.

1) The murder of two or more people, where each murder involves a substantial degree of premeditation or planning, the abduction of the victim, or sexual or sadistic conduct.

2) The murder of a child if involving the abduction of the child or sexual or sadistic motivation.

3) The murder of a police officer or prison officer in the course of his or her duty.

4) A murder done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious,
racial or ideological cause.

5) A murder by an offender previously convicted of murder.

In Couzens’s case, Lord Justice Fulford said it was “not a closed list of cases”.

He said by misusing his police role to kidnap, rape and murder Sarah, Couzens’s crime was “of equal seriousness as a murder carried out for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause”.