Woodland search and 'garden dug up' in hunt for Sarah Everard after officer arrested

10 March 2021, 00:01 | Updated: 10 March 2021, 15:30

A serving Met Police Officer has been arrested in connection with Sarah Everard's disappearance
A serving Met Police Officer has been arrested in connection with Sarah Everard's disappearance. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A serving Metropolitan Police Officer has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of Sarah Everard, as police search a terraced house and disused paintball site in Kent.

The unnamed police officer was taken into custody at a property in Kent and is being held at a London police station.

He was not on duty at the time she vanished, the constabulary confirmed on Wednesday morning.

Read more: Police officer arrested on suspicion of murder of Sarah Everard

Read more: Timeline of Sarah Everard's disappearance as police officer arrested

Police are currently searching a property on Freemens Way in Deal, Kent, with a blue tent erected outside a terraced house and forensic teams seen inside.

A black car has also been removed from the driveway, with neighbours telling the PA news agency that police "were digging up the garden".

Images also show Met Police conducting searches near to the disused Great Chart Golf and Leisure attraction in Ashford, Kent. Great Chart is around 40 minutes drive from Deal and until 2019 was a paintball, archery and golf centre.

Ms Everard, 33, was last seen leaving a friend's house in Clapham, south London, at around 9pm last Wednesday.

A tent has been erected outside a house in Freemens Way, Deal, Kent.
A tent has been erected outside a house on Freemens Way, Deal, Kent. Picture: PA
Multiple police vans are currently parked near Great Chart Gold and Leisure in Ashford, Kent.
Multiple police vans are currently parked near Great Chart Gold and Leisure in Ashford, Kent. Picture: PA

Speaking to journalists outside Scotland Yard, Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: "Our inquiries suggest that this officer was not on duty at the time of Sarah's disappearance."

Mr Ephgrave would not say if the officer was known to Ms Everard, or what he had been arrested for.

A woman was also arrested at the same location on suspicion of assisting an offender, and is being held at a London police station.

Read more: Police release new images of missing Sarah Everard as search continues

An image released by police shows Ms Everard in the same coat she wore the night she disappeared
An image released by police shows Ms Everard in the same coat she wore the night she disappeared. Picture: PA
Miss Everard, 33, was last seen leaving a friend's house in Clapham, south London, at around 9pm last Wednesday
Miss Everard, 33, was last seen leaving a friend's house in Clapham, south London, at around 9pm last Wednesday. Picture: PA

Friends and relatives have been urgently appealing on social media for help finding Ms Everard, and on Tuesday a cordon was put in place on the A205, near the Poynders Court housing complex in the Clapham area.

More pictures of her have been released as police plead for anyone who may have seen her to contact them.

The marketing executive left her friend's flat in Leathwaite Road, Clapham, at around 9pm on to the A205 South Circular, and is thought to have walked through Clapham Common towards her house in Brixton.

The journey should have taken around 50 minutes.

Her family have said it is "totally out of character" for her to disappear.

Met Police officers are using dogs to search land near to Great Chart Golf and Leisure in Ashford, Kent.
Met Police officers are using dogs to search land near to Great Chart Golf and Leisure in Ashford, Kent. Picture: PA
Forensics outside Poynders Court on the A205 in Clapham, during the continuing search for missing woman Sarah Everard
Forensics outside Poynders Court on the A205 in Clapham, during the continuing search for missing woman Sarah Everard. Picture: PA

Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin said: “This is a significant development in our inquiry. This is a fast moving investigation and we are doing everything we can to find Sarah.

"We have seen an overwhelming response from the public and I repeat my request for anyone with information that may be relevant to come forward, no matter how insignificant it may seem."

Mr Ephgrave said: "The arrest this evening is a serious and significant development. We will continue to work with all speed on this investigation but the fact that the arrested man is a serving Metropolitan Police officer is both shocking and deeply disturbing.

"I understand there will be significant public concern but it is essential that the investigative team are given the time and space to continue their work."

The investigation is being treated as a missing person inquiry, but is being led by the Met's Specialist Crime Command due to its "complex nature" and concerns for Ms Everard's welfare, the force said.

Sarah's family have said it is "totally out of character" for her to disappear.
Sarah's family have said it is "totally out of character" for her to disappear. Picture: PA

She was last seen wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern, and turquoise and orange trainers. She is thought to have been wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat.

In an earlier statement, Ms Everard's family said: "With every day that goes by we are getting more worried about Sarah.

"She is always in regular contact with us and with her friends and it is totally out of character for her to disappear like this. We long to see her and want nothing more than for her to be found safe and well.

"We are so grateful to the police and all our friends for all they are doing.

"We are desperate for news and if anyone knows anything about what has happened to her, we would urge you to please come forward and speak to the police. No piece of information is too insignificant."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he had spoken with the Met Police Commissioner in relation to the police officer's arrest.

Mr Khan added that his team have also been in contact with Ms Everard's family and described her disappearance as "heartbreaking and heart-wrenching".

Following the arrest Downing Street have also said Boris Johnson's "thoughts are with Sarah and her friends and family".

The prime minister's official spokesman told a Westminster briefing that as "as investigations are ongoing on this case" they could not comment further.

Anyone who has seen Sarah or who has information that may assist the investigation should call the Incident Room on 0208 785 8244.

Additional reporting by Joe Cook