Police officer Wayne Couzens pleads guilty to murdering Sarah Everard after admitting her rape and kidnap

·4-min read
Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard, who went missing in March 2021. (PA Images)
Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard, who went missing in March 2021. (PA Images)

Police officer Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard.

The Metropolitan Police officer, 48, kidnapped Ms Everard in a hire car as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of 3 March.

He then went on to rape and strangle the 33-year-old marketing executive.

An urgent hunt was launched after Ms Everard's boyfriend reported her missing.

Six days after she vanished, her body was found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just metres from land owned by Couzens.

Undated handout photo issued by Metropolitan Police of Sarah Everard. Senior police say they have been left shocked and disturbed after the arrest of a serving officer in connection with the disappearance of Sarah Issue date: Wednesday March 10, 2021.
Sarah Everard was abducted as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, in March. (PA)

Last month, Couzens pleaded guilty to Ms Everard’s kidnap and rape.

On Friday, he pleaded guilty to her murder when he appeared at the Old Bailey by video link from Belmarsh high security jail.

Ms Everard's parents were among the family members present in court to hear Couzens admit the crime.

File photo dated 13/03/2021 of a court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of serving police constable Wayne Couzens (centre), appearing in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court, in London. Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey in London to the murder of Sarah Everard. Issue date: Friday July 9, 2021.
A court artist sketch of Wayne Couzens, centre, appearing at an earlier court hearing. (Elizabeth Cook/PA Images)

It can now be reported that Couzens, who joined the Met in 2018, took a number of steps to plan his crime in the days before Ms Everard's death.

He had booked the hire of a Vauxhall Astra in order to mask his tracks, and bought a roll of self-adhesive film days before the murder.

Couzens, a firearms-trained parliamentary and diplomatic protection officer, wiped his phone just minutes before he was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, on 9 March.

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

He also ordered tarpaulin and a bungee cargo net for delivery.

The details of Couzens' elaborate story concocted in a police interview can also be revealed.

After his arrest, he told officers that he was in financial difficulty, and was in trouble with a gang of Eastern Europeans who had threatened him and his family.

He said the gang demanded he deliver them “another girl” after underpaying a prostitute a few weeks before.

He told police he kidnapped Ms Everard, drove out of London and handed her over to three Eastern European men in a van in a layby in Kent, still alive and uninjured.

Watch: Sarah Everard: How the case unfolded

During the investigation, police discovered that Couzens and his wife had bought a small patch of woodland in Ashford in 2019.

Phone data led officers to the site, and a body was found some 100 metres 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.

At about 9pm on 3 March, Ms Everard had set off on foot for the two-and-a-half mile journey home, chatting with her boyfriend by mobile phone on the way.

Sarah Everard's family pictured outside the Old Bailey last month. (PA)
Sarah Everard's family pictured outside the Old Bailey last month. (PA)

A camera attached to a passing marked police car captured her walking alone at 9.32pm.

Just three minutes later, a bus camera appeared to capture the moment she was intercepted by Couzens in Balham, south London.

Two figures could be seen standing by the hire car, which was parked on the pavement with its hazard lights flashing.

After snatching Ms Everard, Couzens drove out of London, arriving in the area of Tilmanstone, near Deal, at 1am.

Floral tributes left at the bandstand in Clapham Common for Sarah Everard in March. (PA)
Floral tributes left at the bandstand in Clapham Common for Sarah Everard in March. (PA)

Jim Sturman, defending, told the court on Friday: “His pleas today represents a truly guilty plea and remorse for what he did and, as he put it to us this morning, he will bear the burden for the rest of his life. His words: ‘As I deserve.'”

The judge, Lord Justice Fulford, set a two-day sentencing hearing from 29 September.

The killing sparked protests at the rate of violence against women.

Cressida Dick – whose Metropolitan Police force was criticised over the manhandling of women at a vigil for Ms Everard attended by the Duchess of Cambridge – said outside the court on Friday that she had spoken to the family of Ms Everard and told them “how very sorry I am for their loss, for their pain and their suffering”.

The commissioner said the force was “sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s crimes – they are dreadful”.

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