Ex-police officer admits 'errors' over CCTV in Couzens investigation but insists nothing 'would've changed the outcome'

18 May 2023, 22:58 | Updated: 29 February 2024, 07:48

I could not have changed tragic outcome, ex-Met officer says
I could not have changed tragic outcome, ex-Met officer says. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A former Met Police officer who allegedly missed an opportunity to properly investigate Wayne Couzens over two incidents of flashing hours before he kidnapped Sarah Everard has admitted she made some errors but said nothing she could have done "would have changed the tragic outcome".

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Samantha Lee is said to have failed to make "the correct investigative inquiries" over two incidents when Wayne Couzens exposed himself to female members of staff at a McDonald's restaurant in Swanley, Kent, on February 14 and 27 2021, a police disciplinary hearing was told.

On both occasions, Couzens was seen by female members of staff to have his pants open and his penis on display.

Listen and subscribe to Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street on Global Player

Ms Lee attended the restaurant on March 3 and interviewed manager Sam Taylor, hours before Sarah Everard was kidnapped by Couzens in Clapham, south-west London.

The former officer is alleged to have lied about her actions when later questioned about the interview, as she claimed she believed that CCTV at the restaurant was deleted automatically so there would be no footage of Couzens or the offence.

Throughout her evidence Ms Lee maintained Mr Taylor told her he did not have any CCTV of the incident.

She told the tribunal that Mr Taylor explained that a photo is taken of the driver when a car pulls up to the order box of the drive-thru, but it is deleted after the driver collects their order.

Read more: Teen killers of Khayri McLean, 15, jailed for life, as police baffled by 'unbelievable' motive for the murder

Read more: Tommy Cooper's niece found in pool of blood after being stabbed to death, as killer faces life behind bars

Former Metropolitan Police officer Samantha Lee outside Palestra House in Southwark
Former Metropolitan Police officer Samantha Lee outside Palestra House in Southwark. Picture: Alamy

In his evidence, Mr Taylor said he had shown Ms Lee the footage and told her it could be downloaded on to a USB stick.

On Thursday, Ms Lee said: "I accept now that there was CCTV and that I should have asked more questions about it."

However, she told the tribunal there was nothing she could have done that would have stopped Couzens from kidnapping and murdering Ms Everard.

"I accept that I could have done more around CCTV and evidence gathering, that was errors on my part and I accept that," she said.

"And as much as I have thought it over and over, I don't believe that anything I could have done would have changed the tragic outcome of what happened later that day."

Ms Lee is alleged to have breached the force's standards on duties and responsibilities as well as honesty and integrity.

If she is found to have committed gross misconduct, she could be banned from serving in the force again.

She denies the allegations.

The misconduct hearing is being held at Palestra House in Southwark, south London.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Passengers are facing delays across the country

Is your flight delayed? Airports and airlines issue updates after mass IT outage causes travel chaos around the world

Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was detained last March on spying charges

American journalist jailed for 16 years in Russia after being convicted of espionage

People have been out enjoying the sunshine ahead of the weekend.

Hot hot hot! Temperatures soar to 31C today and 30C tomorrow after an uncomfortable tropical night tonight

Harehill descended into chaos yesterday evening

Starmer condemns ‘shocking and disgraceful’ disorder after riot sweeps through Leeds

Joe Biden and Barack Obama worked in office together between 2008 and 2016

Biden planning ‘major announcement’ about his future as Obama says he must ‘seriously consider stepping down’

Zara McDermott opened up about the "extremely distressing" events that occurred behind the scenes at Strictly Come Dancing.

Zara McDermott hits back after ex-Strictly pro Graziano Di Prima claims he only kicked her once

Lee Laudat-Scott is charged with touching a boy under 13.

Former Labour councillor Lee Laudat-Scott charged with sexual assault of a child

Graham Gomm

Urgent manhunt as prisoner escapes custody at HMP Wormwood Scrubs during trip to hospital

Dominic Reid and Prince Harry

Prince Harry's charity boss quits as head of Invictus Games days after duke sees backlash over veterans' award

CrowdStrike sign and logo at headquarters in Silicon Valley

What is CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity company ‘responsible’ for global IT failure? Microsoft outages explained

Keir Starmer welcomes Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Downing Street

Starmer greets Zelenskyy as Ukrainian President becomes first foreign leader to address UK cabinet since Bill Clinton

Roger Hallam was jailed for five years over M25 protests

‘Their protests are pathetic’: Armed forces minister slams Just Stop Oil as founder give five-year prison sentence

2024 Republican National Convention: Day 4

Hulk Hogan tears off shirt on stage at Republican national convention as he declares 'Trumpmania'

Clean up has begun following the riot in Leeds

Clean-up begins after riot sweeps through Leeds neighbourhood with bus set on fire and police car overturned

Live
The outage is being felt across the world

Global IT outage LIVE: CrowdStrike outage could be ‘biggest cyber incident in history’ as GP surgeries and banks hit

A Microsoft bug has caused a huge IT update

Mass IT outage grounds planes and hits trains, banks and businesses across the world