Sarah Everard: Police officer 'used fake Covid stop' to rape and kill woman

·3-min read

A court has heard London police officer Wayne Couzens kidnapped Sarah Everard under the guise of a Covid breach before raping and murdering her.

The former Metropolitan Police Department officer pleaded guilty in July to the murder of Ms Everard who disappeared while walking home from visiting a friend in south London on March 3.

Her body was found in woodlands south of London.

A still black and white image taken from CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police shows Wayne Couzens (right) and Sarah Everard beside a vehicle in south London. Source: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire
CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police shows Wayne Couzens (right) and Sarah Everard beside a vehicle in south London. Source: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

Couzens, 48, appeared at London's Central Criminal Court on Wednesday (local time) charged with the kidnap, rape and murder of the 33-year-old.

The Metropolitan Police released new CCTV and video from the night Ms Everard disappeared, as well as audio recordings.

The 48-year-old has pleaded guilty to the charges.

Allowed his children to play in the woods

London's Central Criminal Court was told in a two-day sentencing hearing the 48-year-old took his family to Hoads Wood, near Ashford, Kent, on March 7 just two days before his arrest.

On the way to the woods, Couzens reportedly stopped at a service station in Dover en route to Hoads Wood, which he had been to shortly after raping and murdering Ms Everard.

CCTV shows Wayne Couzens leaving a service station Dover, Kent after making a purchase wearing a black beanie and long sleeved shirt.
CCTV shows Wayne Couzens leaving a service station Dover, Kent after making a purchase. Source: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

Prosecutor Tom Little told the court “it follows that the defendant took his family on a family trip to the very woods where days earlier he had left Sarah Everard’s body, then returned to burn it and then returned again to move it and hide it”.

"Couzens allowed his children to play in 'relatively close proximity to where Ms Everard’s body had been dumped in the pond'," Mr Little said.

Ms Everard's body was found in woodland in Ashford, Kent – about 97km southeast of London – a week after she went missing.

Lured by fake Covid breach

The married father of two abducted Ms Everard as she walked home from a friend's house in Clapham, south London, on March 3.

CCTV footage shown in court shows the 33-year-old with Couzens moments before he kidnapped her.

A photo Sarah Everard smiling at the camera.
Sarah Everard's body was found 97km southeast of London a week after she went missing. Source: CPS/PA Wire

He reportedly used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to kidnap Ms Everard, using Covid lockdown regulations to make a false arrest.

“The fact she had been to a friend’s house for dinner at the height of the early 2021 lockdown made her more vulnerable to and more likely to submit to an accusation that she had acted in breach of the Covid regulations in some way,” Mr Little said.

CCTV footage played in court shows Couzens raising his left arm, holding a warrant card, before handcuffing Ms Everard and putting her into the back of the car.

Ms Everard’s family gave emotional victim impact statements to the court, saying their lives will "never be the same".

“We should be a family of five, but now we are four. Her death leaves a yawning chasm in our lives that cannot be filled," Ms Everard’s mother Susan said.

“I yearn for her. I remember all the lovely things about her: she was caring, she was funny. She was clever, but she was good at practical things too. She was a beautiful dancer. She was a wonderful daughter.”

Before the hearing, London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement they were “sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s crimes, which betray everything we stand for”.

with Yahoo UK's Andy Wells

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