Sarah Everard: police officer appears in court charged with kidnap and murder

Court told body was discovered in a builder's bag and had to be identified by dental records

A police van arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court, in London, Saturday March 13, 2021. London police arrested a member of the force's Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command on Tuesday as a suspect in the case of the disappearance of Sarah Everard. Late Friday police charged the officer, Constable Wayne Couzens, with kidnapping and murder. Couzens, 48, was due to appear in court on Saturday. (Steve Parsons/PA  via AP)
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A British police officer has appeared in court charged with the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard.

Wayne Couzens, 48, who had been on duty at the US Embassy prior to the incident, appeared in London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on Saturday.

He spoke only to confirm his name and address as the charges of murder and kidnap were read to him.

He was arrested on Tuesday after the 33-year-old disappeared when walking home to Brixton from Clapham in south London last week.

Her body was later discovered hidden in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, on Wednesday.

The court was told her body was found hidden in a builder's bag and had to be identified by the use of dental records.

Police officer charged with kidnap and murder in Sarah Everard death

Police officer charged with kidnap and murder in Sarah Everard death

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring has now sent the case to be heard at London's Old Bailey on March 16.

"Mr Couzens, I am sending your case to the crown court sitting at the Central Criminal Court, what you might know as the Old Bailey," he said.

The case has provoked an outpouring of anger over the safety of women in Britain.

A vigil planned on Saturday was cancelled after the police refused to let the event take place because of Covid-19 restrictions.

The organisers went to court to overturn the police ban but failed in their bid on Friday.

Commander Catherine Roper, the Metropolitan Police’s lead for Community Engagement, thanked the organisers for cancelling the event.

"Since Sarah’s disappearance, we have shared Londoners' anguish, shock and sadness at the truly awful circumstances of her disappearance and death," she said in a statement.

“I know that yesterday’s ruling would have been unwelcome news for the organisers and to those who were hoping to join others in tribute to Sarah and to make a stand on violence against women.

“While it is clear we cannot do this together on Clapham Common, I know there are various others ways to mourn Sarah in a safe way.

“We take no joy in this event being cancelled, but it is the right thing to do given the real and present threat of Covid-19. Throughout the week we have had a number of talks with the organisers of the vigil. These talks have undoubtedly been challenging and officers have worked hard to explain the regulations and why gatherings such as this cannot go ahead at this time.

“While we understand their frustrations of this cancellation and share the nation's outrage at this crime, we must all continue to work together to fight Covid-19 and keep each other safe.

“Throughout the day we will have officers on patrol throughout the capital. We are there to keep people safe and will be highly visible and supporting our communities.”

Ms Everard disappeared after walking home from a friend's house in Clapham on the evening of March 3.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would do all she could to protect women and girls following the outcry that has followed Ms Everard's disappearance.

"Every woman and girl should be free to walk our streets without the slightest fear of harassment, abuse or violence," she said on Twitter.

Hundreds of officers have been drafted in to help with the investigation.

"The investigation continues of course," Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said.

"I would like to use this opportunity to encourage anyone that thinks they might have useful information to give, to get in contact with us."

The Met said it had received more than 120 calls from the public and had visited 750 homes in the Kent area as part of the investigation.