A policeman on duty kidnapped and murdered Sarah Everard after accusing her of violating the Covid-19 lockdown during a “false arrest,” a court said.
Wayne Couzens, 48, used his handcuffs and warrant card to snatch Ms Everard as she returned home after visiting a friend in Clapham, south London on the evening of March 3.
The sexual predator, who had completed a 12-hour shift that morning, then raped and strangled the 33-year-old marketing manager, then set her body on fire.
PC Wayne Couzens pleaded guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard (Metropolitan Police / PA)
A week after her disappearance, Ms Everard’s remains were found in a wooded stream in Ashford, Kent, a few yards from land owned by Couzens.
He pleaded guilty to the murder, kidnapping and rape of Ms Everard and appeared at the Old Bailey on Wednesday for the start of his sentence.
He sat on the platform with his head bowed as District Attorney Tom Little QC opened the case, under the supervision of Ms Everard’s family.
Mr Little said Ms Everard’s disappearance was one of the most high-profile missing person investigations the country has ever seen.
After her body was discovered in the woods, it was summed up with the hashtag “she was just walking home,” he said.
But that doesn’t fully describe what happened to Ms Everard, the court said.
Mr Little said: “While it is impossible to sum up what the accused did to Sarah Everard in just five words, if it were to be done it would be more appropriate to do so as deception, kidnapping, rape, strangulation, fire. “
Ms Everard was described by a longtime ex-boyfriend as “extremely intelligent, savvy and savvy” and “not a gullible person,” the court said.
He said he could not envisage her getting into a car with someone she did not know “except by force or manipulation,” the prosecutor said.
Mr Little added: ‘The fact that she went to a friend’s house for dinner during the height of the lockdown in early 2021 made her more vulnerable and more likely to submit to a charge that she acted in violation of Covid regulations in one way or another. . “
Couzens worked on Covid patrols at the end of January of this year, enforcing coronavirus regulations, so would have known what language to use for those who might have broken them.
He allegedly wore his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray, when he kidnapped Ms Everard.
The court heard how the officer planned ahead by booking a rental car between 5 p.m. on March 3 and 9:30 a.m. the next day.
Floral tributes were left at the Clapham Common Bandstand (Victoria Jones / PA)
Mr Little said there was “no other credible explanation for his need to hire a car other than to use that car to kidnap and rape a single woman.”
“His movements were consistent with the fact that the accused was looking for or chasing a young woman alone to kidnap and rape, which is precisely what he did,” said the prosecutor.
CCTV footage showed Couzens raising his left arm holding a warrant card before handcuffing Ms Everard and putting her in the rental car.
Before the start of the two-day sentence, Scotland Yard issued a statement which read: ‘We are disgusted, angry and devastated by the crimes of this man who betray everything we stand for.
âOur hearts go out to Sarah’s family and her many friends. It is not possible for us to imagine what they are going through.
“We recognize that his actions raise many questions and concerns, but we will not comment further until the end of the hearing.”
Lord Justice Fulford will consider whether to hand down a life sentence before sentencing Couzens on Thursday.
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