Clive Bull 1am - 4am
Sarah Everard: Met Police officer Wayne Couzens pleads guilty to murder
9 July 2021, 10:44 | Updated: 9 July 2021, 13:34
Metropolitan Police Officer Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard.
The 48-year-old today admitted killing the 33-year-old marketing executive on 3 March as he appeared via video link at the Old Bailey.
He had already admitted to kidnapping and raping her at an earlier court hearing, and will be sentenced on the 29th September.
Tom Little, QC, prosecuting, said today depraved Couzens did not "and had never met Sarah" when he abducted her.
His lawyers told the court: “His pleas today represent truly genuine guilt and remorse for what he did.
"He will bear this burden for the rest of his life, and he deserves to. Those are his words.”
Couzens kidnapped Ms Everard in a hired of a Vauxhall Astra as she walked home alone from a friend's house in Clapham, south London.
He had also bought a roll of self-adhesive film days before the murder.
A camera attached to a passing marked police car captured Sarah walking alone at 9.32pm, and just three minutes later a bus camera appeared to capture the moment she was intercepted by Couzens.
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.
Investigators tracked the route of the car using CCTV and ANPR 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.
Police launched an urgent inquiry after Ms Everard was reported missing by her boyfriend Josh Lowth.
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 March 9.
The following day - a week after she disappeared - Ms Everard's body was found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just metres from land owned by Couzens.
The killing has sparked protests at the rate of violence against women.
In the days that followed, Couzens reported that he was suffering from stress and did not want to carry a firearm any more, according to a case summary.
On March 8, the day he was due on duty, he reported in sick.
The next day, police arrested Couzens at 7.50pm - 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, and being in vtrouble with a gang of Eastern Europeans who threatened him and his family after underpaying a prostitute a few weeks before.
He claimed they told him to deliver "another girl", and he handed Sarah over to three Eastern European men in a van in a layby 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 4.45pm 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.
Further inquiries revealed that on the same day that Couzens booked the hire car, he bought a roll of self-adhesive film on Amazon.
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 March 7.
Even though Couzens' phone had been wiped, cell site data linked him to the abduction and the area where Ms Everard was eventually found.
Not only was his device located there in the early hours of March 4 but also in the days leading up to his arrest.
The defendant went on to make no comment in formal interview and was charged on March 12.
During an earlier hearing, prosecutor Tom Little QC had outlined "significant" risks of Couzens reoffending if bailed.
He cited an alleged incident of indecent exposure on February 28 - days before the murder.
As part of a string of referrals in the case, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was investigating whether Met Police officers responded appropriately to a report of indecent exposure at a fast food restaurant in south London.
More to follow....