Sarah Everard’s cousin recounts the harrowing months that still haunt her family

In the weeks that followed her murder, Sarah Everard became the nation’s ‘Everywoman’, a poster girl for a generation fired up to tell their own stories of sexual violence and harassment at male hands.

People who didn’t know her, had never met her, spoke her name or wrote it on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram; her photograph appeared in online posts that were shared millions of times.

This political hijacking of her death, said Sarah’s closest friends, was not something she would have wanted. Sarah’s family, breaking their silence today, could not agree more.

Now that the marketing executive’s killer has finally been brought to justice, it is time to restore her memory to her family; to pay tribute to the bright, kind, joyous woman – taken in the prime of her life – so loved by those who knew her.

Talking exclusively to the Daily Mail this week, one of Sarah’s cousins has spoken for the first time about how her death has left a gaping hole in her closely-knit loving family. A hole nothing can ever fill.

One of Sarah’s cousins has spoken for the first time about how her death has left a gaping hole in her closely-knit loving family. Pictured: Sarah Everard

One of Sarah’s cousins has spoken for the first time about how her death has left a gaping hole in her closely-knit loving family. Pictured: Sarah Everard

One of Sarah’s cousins has spoken for the first time about how her death has left a gaping hole in her closely-knit loving family. Pictured: Sarah Everard

Having cleared out the flat where the 33-year-old lived in south London and quietly laid her to rest in a private family funeral, her parents, Jeremy and Sue, are still struggling to come to terms with their unfathomable loss.

‘It’s just so heart-wrenching. The family is so broken over it,’ says Marlene Smith. ‘Sarah will be forever in our hearts. She was just such a lovely person, very effervescent and outgoing. Such a kind, loving person.

‘She was so young and innocent and it’s still hard to believe this has happened to our family. Last month would have been her 34th birthday. The grief is still overwhelming.’

Marlene, a former pilot with Jamaican Airlines, is Sarah’s second cousin and first cousin to her father, Jeremy who was born in Jamaica into a family with roots in Britain and on the island.

Sarah’s grandmother was Jamaican nurse Pamela Smith who travelled to London in the 1950s. There she met Sarah’s paternal grandfather, civil engineer Ken Everard, who worked for the United Nations after the Second World War and moved with his wife back to Jamaica where he designed and built bridges.

Sarah’s father Jeremy, 67, and her two uncles, Nick and Douglas, were all born on the Caribbean island and spent their early years there.

‘We are a very close family,’ says 56-year-old Marlene. ‘This has hit us hard. Sarah was very loved by all of us. Being the youngest of Jeremy’s kids, it’s a huge loss and terrible to know what she might have endured.’

Although she keeps in close contact with Sarah’s parents, the last time Marlene saw Sarah was around 20 years ago when she travelled to the UK for Sarah’s grandfather’s funeral and stayed with the Everards at their home in York. ‘Sarah was a young teenager at the time. Very fun and friendly and loving and kind,’ says Marlene.

Having cleared out the flat where the 33-year-old (pictured) lived in south London and quietly laid her to rest in a private family funeral, her parents, Jeremy and Sue, are still struggling to come to terms with their unfathomable loss

Having cleared out the flat where the 33-year-old (pictured) lived in south London and quietly laid her to rest in a private family funeral, her parents, Jeremy and Sue, are still struggling to come to terms with their unfathomable loss

Having cleared out the flat where the 33-year-old (pictured) lived in south London and quietly laid her to rest in a private family funeral, her parents, Jeremy and Sue, are still struggling to come to terms with their unfathomable loss

Sarah’s parents have since been to visit Marlene in Florida where she now lives.

‘When I saw Jeremy’s Facebook message saying that Sarah was missing, we were in such shock,’ she adds. ‘It’s the kind of thing you think only happens to other families. We couldn’t believe it was happening to our own.

‘We’ve had such an overwhelming outpouring of love and support from everyone.’

The past three months, she says, have been unbelievably hard for the Everards. In the aftermath of Sarah’s death, she says, even the Jamaican High Commissioner in London contacted Sarah’s parents to offer his condolences.

‘Jeremy and Sue had to clear out her apartment. That was very hard although they were able to see some of Sarah’s friends and that was lovely. I check in with them all the time to see how they are coping and to give love and moral support. It is so terrible that this has happened to them. They are such lovely people.’

Sarah Rosemary Everard was born on June 14, 1987, at Redhill Hospital in Surrey not far from the 1930s three-bedroom semi-detached home in Horley, Surrey where her parents lived with her older siblings, James and Katie. Her mother Sue, now 64, trained as a physiotherapist. Her father Jeremy is one of the nation’s most brilliant engineers and a leading expert on microwaves and low-noise oscillators.

After gaining a PhD from Cambridge in 1983, he worked for GEC Marconi and Philips Research Laboratories on radio and microwave circuit design before teaching for nine years at King’s College London. When Sarah was six years old, he was made professor of electronics at the University of York and the family moved north to a new home in the city.

At Fulford School, the high-achieving state school where Sarah studied for GCSEs and A-levels, staff still remember how ‘her kindness, care and humanity benefited all who knew her.’ 

Sarah's cousin Marlene said the past three months, she says, have been unbelievably hard for the Everards. Pictured: Sarah Everard at the Taj Mahal

Sarah's cousin Marlene said the past three months, she says, have been unbelievably hard for the Everards. Pictured: Sarah Everard at the Taj Mahal

Sarah’s cousin Marlene said the past three months, she says, have been unbelievably hard for the Everards. Pictured: Sarah Everard at the Taj Mahal

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens (pictured) told the Old Bailey on Friday morning he murdered Sarah after the abduction and sex attack

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens (pictured) told the Old Bailey on Friday morning he murdered Sarah after the abduction and sex attack

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens (pictured) told the Old Bailey on Friday morning he murdered Sarah after the abduction and sex attack

A number of areas were searched in Clapham as police tried to look for missing Sarah before they turned the hunt to Kent

A number of areas were searched in Clapham as police tried to look for missing Sarah before they turned the hunt to Kent

A number of areas were searched in Clapham as police tried to look for missing Sarah before they turned the hunt to Kent

Wayne Couzens seen in a court sketch during a previous hearing relating to the case. His wife moved out of the family home with her daughter, 11, and nine-year-old son in March

Wayne Couzens seen in a court sketch during a previous hearing relating to the case. His wife moved out of the family home with her daughter, 11, and nine-year-old son in March

Wayne Couzens seen in a court sketch during a previous hearing relating to the case. His wife moved out of the family home with her daughter, 11, and nine-year-old son in March

Sarah’s parents (left, Jeremy Everard) have since been to visit Marlene in Florida where she now lives

Sarah’s parents (left, Jeremy Everard) have since been to visit Marlene in Florida where she now lives

Sarah’s parents (left, Jeremy Everard) have since been to visit Marlene in Florida where she now lives

After finishing school in 2005, Sarah went on to study geography at Durham, where she was a member of St Cuthbert’s Society, one of the colleges which make up the university. 

The college motto, ‘kindness begets kindness’, might have been written with her in mind.

Rosie Woollard, a teacher who studied with Sarah at university, described her as ‘beautiful, thoughtful, incredibly kind’.

Marlene Smith (pictured) is a former pilot with Jamaican Airlines Sarah’s second cousin and first cousin to her father

Marlene Smith (pictured) is a former pilot with Jamaican Airlines Sarah’s second cousin and first cousin to her father

Marlene Smith (pictured) is a former pilot with Jamaican Airlines Sarah’s second cousin and first cousin to her father

She added that she was an ‘exceptional friend, dropping everything to be there to support her friends, whenever they need her.’ She was hugely popular and during her fun-loving student days she took part in university ski trips and black-tie parties on the Thames.

She travelled to South Africa in 2007 and to Paris and New York in 2008. Her warm, sociable personality also made her a perfect fit for a career in marketing and PR when she finished her studies.

After graduating in 2008 with a 2:1 degree, she immediately moved to London to embark on a career in marketing.

During her first job at award-winning ‘customer experience’ agency Proximity London, she worked alongside Save The Children and the RNLI.

In spring of 2009, she took time out to travel around Asia, visiting Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and India with her university friends. Later that year, she returned to London to start work with Rapier, a communications agency. Writing on Twitter, former colleague Georgina Burrows remembers Sarah as ‘always there with her big smile, being hilarious’.

Another ex-colleague, Victoria Murray wrote: ‘We were all so young and working things out together. I don’t think I realised how much fun we were having too. I’m so thankful to have those wonderful memories and share them with others.’

And yet another friend, Holly Morgan, who met her through work in London, said she was ‘sunshine and light’. ‘There are those moments where it’s like love at first sight, but with a friend,’ she added. ‘You meet a woman and go, ‘I love you, and I don’t know you yet properly, but I know that I’m going to love you’.’

In 2013, wanderlust led Sarah to quit her job and travel around South America for seven months. Back in London in the summer of that year, she settled back into working life, taking up a position as an account director at McCormack & Morrison.

Over the next eight years, she progressed through her profession, working for a new generation of digital marketing agencies, including Unlimited, Start Design and, a month before her death, Flipside Group, where she had been appointed freelance client lead. A recent photograph, taken at work, showed a confident young woman, full of poise, standing in front of a window with the city stretched out behind her.

Another former colleague, Peter McCormack, who said he had been left ‘heartbroken’ by her death, posted a photograph of Sarah on Facebook taken during a 1980s-themed work night out.

Met’s apology over revealing how Sarah died 

The Metropolitan Police’s senior investigator in the Sarah Everard murder case has apologised ‘wholeheartedly’ after the force put out a press release revealing her alleged cause of death.

The trial judge, Lord Justice Fulford, criticised the release of the interim findings of the pathologist before the material had been considered by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) reviewing lawyer or the defence.

At a hearing at the Old Bailey on Friday June 4, which members of Ms Everard’s family watched by video link, prosecutor Tom Little QC said the press release had been issued ‘a matter of hours’ after the report was uploaded to the court’s digital case files.

‘The prosecution case will be that she was strangled, there’s no doubt about that. How that came into the public domain is another matter,’ said Mr Little.

‘DCI Katherine Goodwin apologises wholeheartedly to the court and the defence for the fact this press release was issued in terms setting out in very short form the underlying evidence.

‘But this was done before the material had even been considered by the reviewing lawyer, the court and the defence.’

DCI Goodwin sat in court throughout the hearing.

The judge said the Met’s directorate of media and communications ‘was responsible for providing the information to the press’, which had been justified on the ‘basis of transparency’ after repeated requests for an update from the media on Ms Everard’s cause of death.

The court heard the pathologist Dr Ben Swift had not been able to provide a final report until Professor Charles Mangham had reviewed the evidence.

‘This is in fact an interim rather than a final finding which may go to underscore the undesirability of this kind of event taking place,’ said the judge.

Lord Justice Fulford detailed the reporting of the release but did not criticise the press.

He said: ‘Whatever the strict position in law, given this press release came from the Metropolitan Police, it is unsurprising that this material was reported by the press, given the appearance of authorisation that had been created in the way in which this material was provided to the press.

‘I do not therefore in these particular circumstances in any sense criticise the press for what happened.’ 

 

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‘You couldn’t have met a nicer, sweeter, funnier, more beautiful person,’ he wrote.

‘Crap at karaoke. Brilliant at everything else.’

Right up until the moment that her life was so cruelly snatched away, Sarah was living the kind of life in London enjoyed by thousands of bright young graduates who head for the capital, post-university, wielding good degrees and aspirational dreams.

With a flat in Brixton, an area in south London to which many of her friends flocked after university, her social life was as lively as her working days.

She was a regular attendee at Glastonbury festival.

She shared a love of music with her boyfriend, 33-year-old Nottingham University chemistry graduate Josh Lowth, who also works in marketing but, before the Covid-19 pandemic, helped to organise a small music festival in an apple orchard in Kent.

The couple were looking forward to the relaxation of lockdown restrictions and, with a group of music-loving friends, had already booked a holiday to Ibiza later this summer to celebrate the end of lockdown. On the night she disappeared, she and Josh shared a 15-minute phone call, making plans to meet each other the next day as she walked home to Brixton from a friend’s house in Clapham Junction at around 9pm, a journey which should have taken around 50 minutes.

It was her worried boyfriend who first raised the alarm to police after Sarah failed to meet him as agreed. And it was Josh, along with Sarah’s siblings and friends who, in the early days of her disappearance, put up missing posters along the route she was walking that night and embarked on an extraordinary social media campaign, asking for information from the public that might lead them to Sarah.

Those torturous days of searching ended with the worst outcome imaginable. News that a serving police officer had been arrested on suspicion of her murder sent shockwaves through society, setting off a public movement that, in reality, had little to do with the profound grief felt by those who knew and loved her.

A vigil held in her name on Clapham Common on March 13 was attended by thousands despite being declared illegal under coronavirus regulations.

Even the Duchess of Cambridge made a quiet visit to lay flowers at the spot, close to where Sarah had last been seen alive. But what was meant to be a peaceful event ended in chaos amid clashes between protestors and police, ending in several arrests.

Given the circumstances of Sarah’s death, the spectacle of women being handcuffed and dragged away by male officers was a particular ugly one.

For a while, it seemed as if Sarah’s death had become public property and given a meaning that, as her friends pointed out, she would never have wanted it to have.

‘Sarah was a victim of one of the most horrific crimes imaginable. She was extremely unlucky – that is all there is to it,’ said Helena Edwards, one of Sarah’s closest friends at Durham University who wrote an article in March on the online media site, Spiked.

‘My friend’s tragic death has been hijacked. It is not a tribute to her any more, it’s about something else – and I don’t like what it has become.’

Now that her killer has finally faced justice, Sarah’s family, says Marlene, want to grieve in peace.

In the only public statement they have made about their daughter, Jeremy and Susan Everard, described the youngest of their children as ‘bright and beautiful – a wonderful daughter and sister’ as well as ‘strong and principled and a shining example to us all.’

They added: ‘We are very proud of her and she brought so much joy to our lives.’

Marlene says that all they can do is to remember her with love.

‘Sarah will forever be in our hearts. She will never fade away.’ 

EXCLUSIVE ‘I keep on asking… Why?’: Wife of killer cop Wayne Couzens reveals how she is haunted by failing to spot ‘any signs’ he was capable of such barbaric crimes – as he admits to murdering Sarah Everard

by JAMES FIELDING for MailOnline 

The wife of Wayne Couzens has told of her horror at the police officer’s sickening crimes and her distress at failing to spot any warning signs in the months before Sarah Everard‘s kidnap and murder.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Elena Couzens, 38, said: ‘I keep on asking ‘why?’ What Wayne did wasn’t human behaviour.’

As Couzens today pleaded guilty to snatching Ms Everard, 33, off the street and then raping her, his wife of 15 years says she is still picking up the pieces of her shattered life and rebuilding it together with the couple’s two young children.

As Wayne Couzens today pleaded guilty to snatching Sarah Everard, 33, off the street and then raping her, his wife of 15 years, Elena (pictured together), 38, says she is still picking up the pieces of her shattered life

As Wayne Couzens today pleaded guilty to snatching Sarah Everard, 33, off the street and then raping her, his wife of 15 years, Elena (pictured together), 38, says she is still picking up the pieces of her shattered life

As Wayne Couzens today pleaded guilty to snatching Sarah Everard, 33, off the street and then raping her, his wife of 15 years, Elena (pictured together), 38, says she is still picking up the pieces of her shattered life

In an exclusive interview, Elena recalls the moment armed police raided their modest two-bedroom semi-detached home in Deal, Kent, and arrested her husband of 15 years, assuming it was his colleagues playing a prank

In an exclusive interview, Elena recalls the moment armed police raided their modest two-bedroom semi-detached home in Deal, Kent, and arrested her husband of 15 years, assuming it was his colleagues playing a prank

In an exclusive interview, Elena recalls the moment armed police raided their modest two-bedroom semi-detached home in Deal, Kent, and arrested her husband of 15 years, assuming it was his colleagues playing a prank

‘If I had any idea what was going on in Wayne’s head, then none of this would’ve happened but I didn’t know anything,’ she said.

‘He didn’t appear to be acting strangely. I didn’t notice anything was wrong. I’m working full time, most of the time I’m dropping the children off at school and picking them up, I have a really busy lifestyle.

‘I can’t comprehend it because he never once previously showed any glimpse of violence, he was never that way. I’m just as puzzled as everyone else.

‘I saw nothing wrong. He had a beautiful family, a good house… what else did he need? I’m constantly asking myself ‘where I did miss the signs?’ How on earth could this have happened?’

Police still don’t know what drove the Metropolitan Police firearms officer to hire a car and snatch Ms Everard off the street. 

The 48-year-old was a devoted family man on the surface, but made every effort to hide his dark behaviour from colleagues in Scotland Yard. 

Despite being an armed officer tasked with protecting politicians, dignitaries and VIPs, Couzens admitted regularly cavorting with prostitutes and was also suspected of taking dangerous body-building steroids. 

Just three days before abducting, raping and murdering Miss Everard, Couzens allegedly flashed two female members of staff at a McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant in Swanley, Kent.

Tragically, despite CCTV cameras identifying his car, he was not arrested for the alleged offence until it was too late. And an investigation is ongoing into claims Kent Police could have stopped Couzens five years ago, but they failed to properly investigate an allegation of indecent exposure when he was seen driving naked from the waist down, in 2015.

In an exclusive interview, Elena recalls the moment armed police raided their modest two-bedroom semi-detached home in Deal, Kent, and arrested her husband of 15 years, assuming it was his colleagues playing a prank. It wasn’t until police were still rifling through their things an hour later that she realised it was serious.

Opening up for the first time, the mother-of-two reveals how she had to break the news to the couple’s children – a daughter, 11, and son, nine – that their father had been arrested after they were moved into a temporary house. She also reached out the family of Ms Everard and said she cannot imagine what her parents are going through.

Ms Couzens pictured outside her home in Kent in March this year

Ms Couzens pictured outside her home in Kent in March this year

She said: ‘He didn't appear to be acting strangely. I didn't notice anything was wrong'

She said: ‘He didn't appear to be acting strangely. I didn't notice anything was wrong'

‘He didn’t appear to be acting strangely. I didn’t notice anything was wrong. I’m working full time, most of the time I’m dropping the children off at school and picking them up, I have a really busy lifestyle’, said Ms Couzens (pictured outside her home in Kent in March this year)

Ms Everard had spent the evening at a friend’s house on March 3 when she started to walk from Clapham to her home in Brixton

Ms Everard had spent the evening at a friend’s house on March 3 when she started to walk from Clapham to her home in Brixton

Ms Everard had spent the evening at a friend’s house on March 3 when she started to walk from Clapham to her home in Brixton

Still seeking answers herself, Elena says: ‘The only thing I can think of is manic depression. I know he suffered from depression, but it was always such a subtle thing, you couldn’t always tell what it was.

‘He’d be up and down. Sometimes he’d feel really happy and energised and he’d start doing things around the house. But I cannot explain why he did this.’

Elena spoke before Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey this morning where he admitted Ms Everard’s murder. He will be sentenced on September 29.

Ms Everard had spent the evening at a friend’s house on March 3 when she started to walk from Clapham to her home in Brixton.

She had phoned her boyfriend, Josh Lowth, for 15-minutes shortly before being snatched off the street, killed and her body dumped in woodland near Ashford in Kent.

Couzens, who worked for the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection unit, guarding embassies in the capital, was arrested at his home in nearby Deal, Kent, on March 9.

Elena said: ‘When the police arrived at the house, I was in shock. At first I thought it was a prank. I thought these are his friends playing a joke.

‘Even an hour into the police search, I remember thinking this is a bit much for a prank but that’s when I started asking questions.

Elena (pictured in March this year) spoke before Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey this morning where he admitted Ms Everard’s murder. He will be sentenced on September 29

Elena (pictured in March this year) spoke before Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey this morning where he admitted Ms Everard’s murder. He will be sentenced on September 29

Elena (pictured in March this year) spoke before Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey this morning where he admitted Ms Everard’s murder. He will be sentenced on September 29

Serving Met Police officer Couzens (above) from Deal, Kent, had been charged with the kidnap and murder of Ms Everard

Serving Met Police officer Couzens (above) from Deal, Kent, had been charged with the kidnap and murder of Ms Everard

Serving Met Police officer Couzens (above) from Deal, Kent, had been charged with the kidnap and murder of Ms Everard

‘The children were here but luckily the police were very professional and the kids didn’t have a clue about what was going on. They were just taken away.’

Elena, a forensic scientist, moved out of the family home with her daughter, 11, and nine-year-old son in March when it became the centre of the murder investigation.

They have now moved back in and she said that she has briefed the children on what has happened to their father as best she can.

She said: ‘The children know about what happened now but they heard it from me. I wanted them to hear it from me and I think I did a good job, they’ve accepted what’s happened as best as anyone could. 

‘We are a safe triangle, I protect them, trust them. We have fun together. Their life goes on, as far as I’m concerned. They go to school and the school has been very supportive, everyone has been very supportive, especially the other school mums.’ 

CCTV footage of Sarah Everard captured earlier on the night she was kidnapped in south London in March this year

CCTV footage of Sarah Everard captured earlier on the night she was kidnapped in south London in March this year

CCTV footage of Sarah Everard captured earlier on the night she was kidnapped in south London in March this year

Ukrainian-born Elena has also gone back to work as a laboratory manager.

She has contacted the devastated family of Ms Everard through intermediaries at the Metropolitan Police and added: ‘I had a conversation with the officers asking them to pass on my condolences. I am sorry that this happened, what happened to Sarah should not happen to any woman but her family are grieving.

‘The feelings I’m going through, they are going through much worse. It is horrendous.

‘As a parent, I have my own two children. I do not want anything like that to happen to them. I cannot imagine the heartache that Sarah’s parents are going through.

‘If I had the power to bring anyone back from the dead, Sarah would be the first person that I would choose. I wish I could rewind the last three months and stop this from happening.’

How was he still on the force? Killer cop Wayne Couzens was caught flashing six years ago and four days BEFORE he snatched Sarah Everard – as 12 cops face ‘gross misconduct’ probe over her murder

By Dan Sales for MailOnline

Sarah Everard’s murderer and rapist PC Wayne Couzens, 48, is being investigated over more unsolved sex crimes as it emerged today he could have been caught six years ago when police failed to probe a flashing complaint against him – with 12 officers now under standards watchdog scrutiny.

Killer officer was accused of indecent exposure three days before he murdered Sarah

The public reacted with horror when the Metropolitan Police announced that one of their own had been arrested over the death of Sarah Everard.

Wayne Couzens, who is married with children, was a highly trusted member of the force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.

The armed unit is responsible for guarding the Parliamentary estate, including Downing Street and the Palace of Westminster, as well as embassies in London.

The 48-year-old officer had been accused of indecent exposure in a branch of fast food restaurant McDonald’s three days before Miss Everard died, but was not arrested or taken off duty while the matter was investigated.

A number of separate troubling incidents involving police officers have attracted public attention in recent months.

In June, West Mercia Pc Benjamin Monk was convicted of the manslaughter of former footballer Dalian Atkinson, having kicked the 48-year-old in the head twice after what the judge called an ‘excessive’ 33-second use of a Taser.

In April, former probationary Metropolitan Police officer Ben Hannam, 22, was found guilty of membership of banned right-wing extremist group National Action (NA) and jailed for four years.

He had been with the London force for nearly two years before he was found on a leaked database of users of extreme right-wing forum Iron March and arrested last year.

Hannam, who pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited image of a child, was also convicted of lying on his application and vetting forms to join the police and having two terror documents detailing knife combat and making explosive devices.

In March, ex-Pc Oliver Banfield, who served with West Midlands Police, was given a curfew and ordered to pay compensation and costs after admitting assault by beating. 

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The Independent Office for Police Conduct revealed the allegation as it confirmed Couzens was suspected of two other indecent exposures feared not to have been properly probed by the Met force days before he killed Sarah.

As Dame Cressida Dick apologised after the murderer’s guilty plea at court this morning, her force refused to comment on what other crimes he may now been linked to.

But the IOPC laid bare a series of worrying incidents and said it had served 12 officers from several forces with gross misconduct or misconduct notices with multiple investigations ongoing.

One gross misconduct notice and six misconduct notices relate to a probe into allegations officers from ‘a number of forces’ breached standards of professional behaviour by sharing information linked to the prosecution of Couzens via a messaging app.

Gross misconduct notices have been served to three officers over an investigation into a probationary Met Police constable who allegedly shared an inappropriate graphic relating to the Sarah Everard case with officers over social media before subsequently manning the cordon at the scene of the search for her.

A probe into the Metropolitan Police’s alleged failure to investigate allegations of indecent exposure linked to Couzens in February 2021 continues with two officers being investigated for possible breaches of professional standards that may amount to misconduct.

A separate investigation is also ongoing into claims Kent Police failed to investigate an incident of indecent exposure in 2015, but no notices have been served by the IOPC to officers over this.

An investigation into how Wayne Couzens sustained head injuries while in custody on both March 10 and March 12 following his arrest has almost concluded, the IOPC said, with all officers involved treated as witnesses. 

Kent Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards said: ‘Kent Police made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct in relation to its investigation into an alleged indecent exposure in Dover in June 2015. ‘It would be inappropriate to comment further whilst the IOPC continues to carry out its independent investigation.’ 

The serving Metropolitan Police officer, appearing via video link from HMP Belmarsh, told the hushed Old Bailey today he murdered Sarah after the abduction and sex attack.

Couzens, who may now face a rare whole life prison sentence, came up with an implausible lie an Eastern European gang had forced him to kidnap her after underpaying a prostitute.

As the Met pursued its investigation the absurd story was dropped as he realised he could not escape justice.

But despite his new confession, Couzens – a diplomatic protection officer – has still refused to explain why he carried out his crimes, offering brazen ‘no comment’ replies in every police interview. He had even tried to kill himself in custody by running into a wall at the station.

He had meticulously planned the kidnap and hired a car three days earlier and bought a roll of self-adhesive film advertised as a carpet protector on Amazon.

Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, went missing as she walked home from a friend's house in Clapham, South London, on March 3

Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, went missing as she walked home from a friend's house in Clapham, South London, on March 3

Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, went missing as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, South London, on March 3 

The circumstances of what happened after he took Sarah will not be detailed until a hearing in September, but the court was told investigations have found she was transferred to Couzens’ own car in Kent, which is where he may have carried out the rape.

Carolyn Oakley, CPS Specialist Prosecutor in the Special Crime Division, said: ‘Wayne Couzens lied to the police when he was arrested and to date, he has refused to comment. We still do not know what drove him to commit this appalling crime against a stranger.’

Questions will also be asked over whether the Met could have stopped him after an indecent exposure was reported to it four days before he struck. CCTV footage showed it was Couzens but it was not realised until after he had killed Sarah. The sequence of events are currently under investigation by the Independent Office of Police Conduct.

Sarah was taken as she was walking home through Clapham Common from a friend’s house towards Brixton on March 3.

She had been reported missing by her boyfriend, who she called for around 14 minutes on an approximately 2.5 mile journey home which began at around 9pm. 

Hunched over in a grey prison tracksuit, bald and bearded Couzens’ quietly answered ‘guilty maam’ when the charge was put to him by the court clerk. 

Tom Little, QC, prosecuting, confirmed today the cop did not ‘and had never met Sarah’ before he abducted her.

Ms Everard’s parents, Jeremy, a professor of electronics at the University of York, and her mother, Susan, were among members of Sarah’s family in court to hear Couzens admit murder today. 

Couzens as he served as a Kent police officer before transferring to the Met Police elite unit where he was armed for his duties

Couzens as he served as a Kent police officer before transferring to the Met Police elite unit where he was armed for his duties

Couzens as he served as a Kent police officer before transferring to the Met Police elite unit where he was armed for his duties

The marketing assistant, who grew up in York and lived in London, was seen on a doorbell camera at around 9pm walking along Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill.

CCTV caught her alone at quarter past nine and again at 9.28pm, before she was seen on the camera of a marked police car at 9.32pm.

Then at around 9.35pm, a bus camera captured two figures on the road and a white Vauxhall Astra with its hazard lights flashing.

Footage from another bus caught the same car with both front doors open. 

The vehicle was later confirmed to have been hired from Dover after police caught its registration number and traced it as it left London for Kent.

Today the court heard investigators are still analysing scientific evidence relating to Wayne Couzens’ own car, into which he transferred Ms Everard from the hire car he used to kidnap her.

They believe it could establish where it was she was raped and murdered by the killer. 

Her disappearance saw a major Metropolitan Police investigation launched before her burnt body was found a week later in woodland in Kent.

When the killer first appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on March 13, prosecutor Zoe Martin detailed how the investigation began the day after Ms Everard was last seen.

‘Sarah Everard saw a friend in the Clapham Junction area, on March 3 and bought a bottle of wine.

‘She left that address at about 9pm to come home. Her address was about two and half miles away and a 9.15pm she called her boyfriend for about 15 minutes.

‘That call finished at 9.28pm and there has been no further activity on her phone since then. 

Jeremy Everard (second left), the father of Sarah Everard, leaves the Old Bailey, central London, at an earlier hearing

Jeremy Everard (second left), the father of Sarah Everard, leaves the Old Bailey, central London, at an earlier hearing

Jeremy Everard (second left), the father of Sarah Everard, leaves the Old Bailey, central London, at an earlier hearing 

‘She was reported missing at 8.10pm on March 4 after she failed to meet her boyfriend as arranged.

‘Investigating officers became involved on Friday March 5. Sarah Everard was captured on CCTV at 9.15pm.

‘The next siting was at 9.28pm and again she was alone.

‘At 9.38pm a bus camera captures two figures standing by a White Vauxhall Astra. One of the figures had lighter clothing and the other darker clothing.

‘Another bus camera also capture the same vehicle. The registration of the vehicle was captured and the police tracked the vehicle using CCTV.’

The Vauxhall drove to Tilmanstone in Kent.

‘The white Vauxhall Astra is a hire car with Enterprise Car Hire in Dover. On 28 February 2021 Wayne Couzens (WC) booked a hire car using his name, address and two different mobile numbers.

‘He paid a deposit using his bank card. WC collected the white Vauxhall Astra seen in the CCTV on Wednesday 3 March 2021 at 16.45 and returned it at approximately 08.30 on 4 March 2021.

‘On investigating the telephone numbers given to Enterprise it is discovered that WC is a serving police officer; it is the same mobile number on his personal records at the MPS.

‘He is currently employed within the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Group and is a trained firearms officer.

‘On 2 March 2021 at 19.00 he started work at his base in Lille Road, West Brompton and worked a 12-hour shift. He then began a period of leave and was not due back at work until Monday 8 March.

‘On 5 March he reported to work that he was suffering with stress. On 6 March he emailed his supervisor to say that he no longer wanted to carry a firearm. On 8 March he reported in sick.’

Couzens was arrested at his home in Deal on 9 March and interviewed but told investigators a pack of absurd lies.

He initially said he ‘did not know Sarah Everard ‘.

‘He then disclosed that he had financial difficulties and he and his family were being threatened by a gang of Eastern Europeans,’ said the prosecutor.

‘He said that 2/3 weeks ago he had underpaid a prostitute (he usually meets them at Hotel Bursten or the Holiday Inn in Folkestone) and a gang with links to this prostitute told him that, as a consequence, he had to deliver them ‘another girl’.

‘They said that if he didn’t, they would harm his family. He also detailed that that the gang had been watching him at his house.

‘He said he kidnapped SE and drove her out of London. When he got between Ashford and Maidstone, he was flashed by a Mercedes Van with Romanian number plates. 

‘He pulled into a layby and three Eastern European men got out of the van and took SE.

‘This was between 23.00 and 23.30 on 3 March 2021 and she was still alive and uninjured when he delivered her to the men.

‘He gave a description of the men and a rough indication of the location of the exchange. 

‘Police established that WC and his wife purchased a small area of land in 2019.

‘The woodland is off Fridd Lane in Ashford. This together with the phone data which will be briefly summarised, led to the area being designated as a crime scene.

‘At about 16.45 on 10 March 2021 a body was discovered approximately 100 meters away from the area owned by WC. The body was in a large green builders’ bag and deposited in a stream. As referred to, dental records have confirmed that this is the body of SE.’

Couzens had made several recent purchases on Amazon.

On 28 February, the day he booked the hire car, he purchased a roll of self-adhesive film advertised as a carpet protector.

On 5 March Couzens was seen on CCTV at B&Q in Dover purchasing two green rubble bags for £9.94. The transcation is confirmed from his banking records.

On 6 March the officer ordered a two metre by 2 metre tarpaulin and a bungee cargo net. The items were shipped to him the next day.

Ms Everard’s phone has never been found.

Couzens’ mobile was seized but it had been wiped of all data at 7.11pm on March 9.

Earlier in the case’s long history Couzens’ lawyer Jim Sturman QC said: ‘Responsibility for the killing is also admitted.’ 

During a previous hearing in June via videolink Couzens sat with his head bowed, only repeating ‘guilty sir’ when charges were put to him.

Sarah’s family were in court that day too for the  20-minute hearing and saw him make his pleas.

Today Tom Little, QC, prosecuting, told the court: ‘Before the defendant kidnapped Sarah Everard, he had not previously met her, he did not know her, and did not have direct or indirect contact with her.

‘They were total strangers to each other.’ 

There was a huge search for Sarah Everard after she went missing after visiting a friend

There was a huge search for Sarah Everard after she went missing after visiting a friend

There was a huge search for Sarah Everard after she went missing after visiting a friend

A handout photo made available by the Metropolitan Police of Sarah Everard

A handout photo made available by the Metropolitan Police of Sarah Everard

A handout photo made available by the Metropolitan Police of Sarah Everard

Sarah's death prompted a vigil in her memory to be held in London near where she vanished

Sarah's death prompted a vigil in her memory to be held in London near where she vanished

Sarah’s death prompted a vigil in her memory to be held in London near where she vanished

Police officers clash with people as they form a gathering in Clapham Common, South London, after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Sarah Everard was officially cancelled on March 13

Police officers clash with people as they form a gathering in Clapham Common, South London, after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Sarah Everard was officially cancelled on March 13

Police officers clash with people as they form a gathering in Clapham Common, South London, after the Reclaim These Streets vigil for Sarah Everard was officially cancelled on March 13








Psychiatric reports are yet to be prepared, and Lord Justice Fulford said: ‘This has been a mammoth investigation which has produced some very significant results to establish what happened.

Sarah’s murder sparked outpouring of grief

Kind, caring and beautiful’, Sarah Everard came to represent women everywhere who feel unsafe on the streets of Britain.

Lockdowns intensified the vulnerabilities of lone women who took to the streets on foot or bicycle rather than risk public transport during the Covid-19 crisis.

On March 3, the 33-year-old marketing executive had picked up a bottle of wine before visiting a friend in Clapham, south London, and later decided to walk two-and-a-half miles home.

The last time her boyfriend, Josh Lowth, spoke to her was in a 14-minute phone call after she set off.

Her route through south London was tracked by CCTV and even a passing police car dashcam – yet none was able stop the unfolding horror.

As a serving police officer, Pc Wayne Couzens might have appeared to her as a trusted figure before the dreadful realisation of his true intent.

After Ms Everard was found dead in woodland in Kent, her family issued a statement, describing her as a ‘shining example’.

They said: ‘Sarah was bright and beautiful – a wonderful daughter and sister.

‘She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable.

‘She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour.

‘She was strong and principled and a shining example to us all.

‘We are very proud of her and she brought so much joy to our lives.’

Amid the outpouring of shock and grief, women came together to share their experiences and push for more to be done to stem the tide of violence.

 

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Mr Little said: ‘It was a very swift investigation in which the defendant was identified very quickly given the limited CCTV evidence available to identify the suspect.’ 

Jim Sturman, QC, for Couzens, said: ‘He has pleaded guilty today based on genuine guilt.

‘He accepts that the victims in this case are Ms Everard’s family and friends, not him.

‘He will bear this burden for the rest of his life and in his words ‘I deserve it’.’  

Lord Justice Fulford remanded Couzens in custody ahead of a two day sentence listed to begin on September 29.

The prosecution had objected to bail when Couzens first appeared at the Old Bailey in March over fears he would kill himself.

Mr Little had said: ‘The objections to bail are failure to surrender second a fear of further offending and third remand for the defendants own protection.

‘In relation to a failure to surrender we rely on the gravity of the offences, the strength of the evidence and the substantial media coverage setting out what we submit is a substantial risk that he will try to abscond if granted bail.

‘He obviously has some knowledge having trained as a police officer which might assist him in that regard. 

Couzens is a member of the elite Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection squad – a role that entitled him to carry a firearm and a Metropolitan Police warrant card.

Formed in 2015, the unit is responsible for the protection of government owned buildings and embassies as well as ministers and visiting heads of state.

As part of his armed duties protecting MPs and dignitaries, Couzens has provided static security for major public events attended by senior members of the Royal Family.

All police recruits undergo careful vetting to check whether they have a criminal record when they join the force.

To be accepted into the elite Westminster armed unit, officers must face rigorous tests and firearms training.

Scotland Yard has referred itself to the police watchdog over the arrest of its own officer and separately over the force’s actions after Sarah was reported missing.

It was previously revealed she spent a quarter of an hour on the phone making plans to see her boyfriend Josh Lowth the following day, before her mobile was either switched off or ran out of battery.

Mr Lowth, 33, whose LinkedIn says he is Marketing Director at MA Exhibitions, later raised the alarm to police when she failed to meet him as she had arranged, her aunt confirmed.

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