Sarah Everard: Policeman Wayne Couzens admits murder after snatching woman off street

Wayne Couzens had previously admitted to kidnapping and rape

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to murdering Sarah Everard. Shutterstock
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A British police officer on Friday admitted murdering Sarah Everard in a case that sparked widespread anger about violence against women.

Wayne Couzens, 48, admitted snatching and murdering Everard, 33, as she walked home from a friend’s house in London in March.

Couzens, a firearms-trained officer who guarded diplomatic premises as part of his role with London's Metropolitan Police, had previously admitted to rape and kidnapping.

The body of Everard – who had never before met the officer - was later found in woodland about 80 kilometres away in south-east England. The body was close to land owned by Couzens.

The murder of Sarah Everard sparked widespread anger about violence against women. AFP

Couzens carried out the murder after clocking off from a 12-hour shift that morning. He had hired a car days before the killing and bought tape and bags in preparation for snatching his victim.

Following his arrest, he claimed he was in trouble with a gang of Eastern European criminals who had ordered him to deliver a girl to them. He claimed to have handed her over unharmed to a group of three men when she was still alive.

The killing by a serving police officer led to protests about the rates of violence against women and successful prosecutions of gender-based crimes.

His own force was criticised for its handling of a vigil for Everard held at Clapham Common, close to where she was snatched by the side of a busy road in south London. A parliamentary inquiry criticised the force after women were seen being pulled from the sit-in – despite earlier findings by a watchdog that largely cleared senior officers.

Couzens, a former serviceman, was arrested six days after the killing after a bus camera appeared to capture the moment that he confronted the marketing executive at the roadside.

Police traced him through car hire records and using roadside cameras that tracked his journey to the spot where he dumped her body.

In the days after the killing, Couzens said that he did not want to carry a gun because he was suffering from stress. He reported in sick before his next shift.

Couzens last month admitted responsibility for her killing but stopped short of admitting murder. He pleaded guilty to murder on Friday after appearing at London’s central criminal court via video link from a top security prison.

As part of the fallout from the murder, the police watchdog is investigating whether officers responded appropriately to a report of indecent exposure involving Couzens at a fast-food restaurant in south London, days before the killing.

Updated: July 09, 2021, 5:49 PM