Police officer charged with murder of Sarah Everard

Taz Ali, PA
·4-min read

A Metropolitan Police officer has been charged with the murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, as the force confirmed he was admitted to hospital for the second time with a head injury.

Serving police constable Wayne Couzens, 48, was charged on Friday evening with kidnapping and killing the marketing executive, who went missing while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London on March 3.

Police said Couzens was taken to hospital for a second time with a head injury on Friday, a day after being treated for an injury he sustained while alone in his cell on Thursday.

POLICE Everard Timeline
(PA Graphics)

A Met Police spokesman said: “The suspect was taken to a hospital for treatment to a head injury sustained while in custody in a cell on Friday.

“He was being monitored by officers and received immediate first aid.

“He was discharged the same day and returned to custody.”

He is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.

In a statement, Rosemary Ainslie, head of special crime at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Following a referral of evidence by the Metropolitan Police related to the death of Sarah Everard, the CPS has authorised the police to charge Wayne Couzens with murder and kidnapping.”

The Met Police said Couzens joined the force two years ago in September 2018 when he worked for a response team covering the Bromley area, before moving to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in February last year.

Speaking outside Scotland Yard on Friday evening, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: “I would like at this stage to pay tribute to Sarah’s family for their fortitude and forbearance through what can only have been the most intensely difficult few days.

“Our thoughts remain with them as this matter progresses.

“The investigation continues of course supported by hundreds of officers from across the Met as well as colleagues in Kent Police.

“I would also like to thank at this stage all members of the public who have come forward with information or support for the investigation and would use this opportunity to encourage anyone who thinks they might have useful information to give to get in contact with us.”

Sarah Everard death
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick joins police officers at Clapham Common as part of reassurance patrols (Ian West/PA)

Scotland Yard confirmed on Friday afternoon that human remains found in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, two days earlier had been identified as Ms Everard.

Scotland Yard is facing an investigation by the police watchdog into its handling of separate allegations of indecent exposure against Couzens, whose primary role was on uniformed patrol duties of diplomatic premises, mainly embassies.

He was alleged to have twice exposed himself at a south London fast food restaurant three days before Ms Everard went missing.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is to probe whether two officers “responded appropriately” in their investigation.

Forensics in Deal, Kent
Forensic officers conducted a search behind a house in Freemens Way in Deal, Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

A forensics team searched an area of land outside the back fence of the Couzens’ house in Deal, Kent, on Friday, while uniformed officers were posted at a derelict garage in Dover, which was run by his family.

Couzens was arrested on Tuesday in Kent, with Commissioner Nick Ephgrave commenting at the time that the fact he is a serving police officer “is both shocking and deeply disturbing”.

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

Her death has prompted an outpouring of grief from the public, with many women and girls sharing stories online of experiencing violence by men.

It has led to the Home Office reopening a public consultation on how to tackle violence against women and girls, with officials considering a proposal for legislation to protect women against public sexual harassment.

Flowers for Sarah Everard
Flowers left at the bandstand on Clapham Common (Ian WestPA)

In a message of support, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “Testimony after testimony from women over recent days have shown us something we have known and ignored for far too long: the profound impact of the sin of male violence, intimidation, harassment, sexism and abuse carried out against women.”

Durham University paid tribute to “beloved graduate” Sarah Everard, who studied geography at St Cuthbert’s Society.

In a statement, vice-chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge said: “Sarah was a popular and lively member of our college community and retained a large Durham University friendship group.”

Flowers for Sarah Everard
Flowers left by members of the public near to an area of woodland in Ashford in Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

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