Murder of Sarah Everard: PC Couzens pleads guilty – Commissioner Dick refuses questions

Thousands of young people attended a vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common which was later attacked by police

METROPOLITAN Police officer Wayne Couzens yesterday pleaded guilty to murdering Sarah Everard.

The 33-year-old vanished while walking home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on 3 March.

Judge Lord Justice Fulford will sentence Couzens at the Old Bailey on 29 September.

Couzens, 48, previously pleaded guilty to kidnap and rape and accepted responsibility for Ms Everard’s death.

After abducting Ms Everard, Couzens drove out of London, arriving in the area of Tilmanstone, near Deal, at 01:00.

Investigators tracked the route of the car using CCTV cameras and identified the driver as a serving officer through the car hire firm.

Couzens had used his personal details and bank card to make the booking, picking up the Vauxhall Astra on the afternoon of the abduction and returning it the next morning.

In the days that followed, Couzens reported he was suffering from stress and no longer wanted to carry a firearm, according to a case summary.

On 8 March, the day he was due on duty, he reported in sick.

The next day, police arrested Couzens at 19:50 – 39 minutes after he wiped the data from his mobile phone.

In a police interview, Couzens concocted an elaborate story and claimed to be having financial problems.

He said he had got into trouble with a gang of Eastern Europeans who threatened him and his family.

A gang demanded he deliver ‘another girl’ after underpaying a prostitute a few weeks before, he said.

He claimed he kidnapped Ms Everard, drove out of London and handed her over to three Eastern European men in a van in a lay-by in Kent, still alive and uninjured.

Meanwhile, police found out that Couzens and his wife had bought a small patch of woodland in 2019 in Ashford.

Phone data led officers to the site and at 16:45 a body was found just outside the property boundary.

The remains dumped in a stream inside a large green builders’ bag were identified as Ms Everard’s by dental records.

Two days after Ms Everard was last seen, Couzens was caught on CCTV buying two green rubble bags at B&Q in Dover.

He went on to order tarpaulin and a bungee cargo net for delivery on 7 March.

Speaking after the conviction, the Crown Prosecution Service’s Carolyn Oakley said: ‘Wayne Couzens lied to the police when he was arrested and to date, he has refused to comment.

‘We still do not know what drove him to commit this appalling crime against a stranger.’

Before his murder of Ms Everard, Couzens exposed himself twice in a public place but was not removed from duty and retained his firearm.

At a press conference yesterday Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, whose Metropolitan Police Force has been accused of being both ‘institutionally racist’ and ‘institutionally corrupt’, refused to take any questions.

She has also refused to resign over the issue.

She said: ‘I was able to speak to Sarah Everard’s family earlier today and say again how very sorry I am for their loss and their pain and their suffering. All of us in the Met are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s crimes.

‘They are dreadful. Everyone in policing feels betrayed.

‘Sarah was a fantastic, talented young woman with her whole life ahead of her, and that has been snatched away. She was hugely loved and she will be sorely missed by so very many people …

‘No words can adequately express the profound sadness and anger and regret that everyone in the Met, in my police service, feels about what happened to Sarah.

‘Today, as every day, our thoughts are with Sarah and her family and her loved ones and they always will be.’