Family of Sarah Everard pay tribute to her as ‘shining example to us all’

The family of Sarah Everard have paid tribute to her as a “shining example to us all”, describing her as a daughter and sister who “brought so much joy to our lives”.

In a statement released on their behalf by the Metropolitan Police, the 33-year-old marketing executive’s family appealed for information to help the force’s investigation.

Ms Everard vanished while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London on March 3, with her suspected kidnap and murder prompting anger over the safety of women on the UK’s streets.

Her family said: “Our beautiful daughter Sarah was taken from us and we are appealing for any information that will help to solve this terrible crime.

“Sarah was bright and beautiful – a wonderful daughter and sister. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable. She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour.

“She was strong and principled and a shining example to us all. We are very proud of her and she brought so much joy to our lives.

“We would like to thank our friends and family for all their support during this awful time and we would especially like to thank Sarah’s friends who are working tirelessly to help.”

Ms Everard’s family also thanked the police and pleaded for people with further information to come forward.

“No piece of information is too insignificant,” they said.

The statement comes after the Metropolitan Police officer suspected of kidnapping and murdering Ms Everard was taken to hospital for a head injury sustained while in custody.

Scotland Yard said the suspect, who is in his 40s, was treated, discharged and returned to the police station where he is being held.

According to the Sun newspaper, he was found collapsed and unconscious in his cell on Thursday after suffering serious head wounds, with the Met later saying he sustained his injury while in his cell alone and he was being monitored by CCTV and received “immediate first aid”.

He remains in custody after an application to extend his detention was granted at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court, Scotland Yard said.

The officer, who is in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, was held on Tuesday night on suspicion of kidnap before being further arrested on suspicion of murder and a separate allegation of indecent exposure the following day.

On Thursday night, the police watchdog said it had launched an investigation into whether Met Police officers “responded appropriately” to a report of indecent exposure following referrals linked to the arrest of the suspect.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) determined two conduct referrals relating to the Sarah Everard case could be investigated locally by the Met while the watchdog is still assessing two more referrals relating to police actions after her disappearance was reported and the suspect being taken to hospital.

A woman in her 30s, who was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of assisting an offender, has been released on bail to return to a police station on a date in mid-April, police said.

Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said on Wednesday night that human remains – which have not yet been identified – had been found in an area of woodland in Ashford, in Kent, by detectives investigating Ms Everard’s disappearance.

On the day she went missing, the arrested officer was reportedly working a 2pm to 8pm relief shift at the US Embassy in Nine Elms, south-west London, around three miles from where she was last seen.

According to unconfirmed reports, detectives are investigating whether he might have used his warrant card to entice Ms Everard towards his car before snatching her.

Officers removed vehicles from outside a house being searched in Deal, Kent, where the officer is believed to have lived with his wife and two children.

Police vehicles at search site
A private ambulance (middle) among police vehicles at the search in an area of woodland in Ashford (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked and deeply saddened”, adding: “We must work fast to find all the answers to this horrifying crime.”

The events since Ms Everard’s disappearance have prompted an outpouring of shock and anger as women across the country shared their own experiences of feeling unsafe.

A vigil called “Reclaim these streets” is due to take place at Clapham Common bandstand in south London on Saturday.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan admitted the capital’s streets are not safe for women or girls when speaking to LBC.

In Parliament, Labour’s Jess Phillips read out the names of women killed in the UK where a man has been convicted or charged as the primary perpetrator.

The MP for Birmingham Yardley spent more than four minutes listing the names of the almost 120 victims from the last 12 months.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said “every woman should feel safe to walk our streets without fear of harassment or violence”, after Dame Cressida sought to reassure the public.

The Met Commissioner said it was “incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets”, but acknowledged women in London “will be worried and may well be feeling scared”.

Ms Everard is thought to have walked through Clapham Common towards her house in Brixton – a journey which should have taken around 50 minutes.

Sarah Everard missing
Sarah Everard, 33, vanished while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London on March 3 (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Ms Everard was last captured on a doorbell camera walking along the A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill at around 9.30pm.

The diplomatic protection squad is responsible for guarding the Parliamentary estate, including Downing Street and the Palace of Westminster, as well as embassies in London.

The suspect’s main job was uniformed patrol of diplomatic premises, according to the Met, who said he was not on duty at the time of Ms Everard’s disappearance.

Dame Cressida said his arrest “has sent waves of shock and anger through the public and through the whole of the Met.”