What we know about Met police officer Wayne Couzens
Constable pleads guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard
Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard.
Appearing via video link from Belmarsh Prison today, Couzens was asked to confirm his guilty plea by the court clerk. The constable did so, “his head barely lifting”, The Guardian reports. Couzens could now face a mandatory life sentence.
Everard disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house near Clapham Common, in south London. Following a major police investigation, her body was discovered in a large builder’s bag in woodland in Ashford, Kent, a week later. A post-mortem found that Everard, who was identified by her dental records, died as a result of compression of the neck.
At an earlier hearing on 8 June, Couzens pleaded guilty to kidnapping the 33-year-old marketing executive “unlawfully and by force or fraud” on 3 March, and to raping her between 2 March and 10 March. He also accepted responsibility for Everard’s death. No plea was entered at the time, “pending medical reports ahead of another hearing on 9 July”, Sky News reported.
At today’s hearing it emerged that Couzens hired a white Vauxhall Astra three days before the attack on Everard. The police officer gave the rental company his personal details, including the mobile number on his Met police personnel file, and used his own bank card, The Guardian reports. “A roll of self-adhesive film” was also bought days before the attack, says the BBC.
Couzens finished work at 7am on the day of the abduction and picked up the hire car that afternoon, returning it the following morning.
At 9:35pm on 3 March, a bus camera “appeared to capture the moment [Everard] was intercepted by Couzens” in London, the BBC reports. The hire car was parked “with its hazard lights flashing” and “two figures could be seen standing” next to it, the BBC continues.
Everard had been on the phone to her boyfriend just minutes before, and he reported her missing the following day. The case has galvanised national debate about women’s safety issues.
Couzens phoned in sick on 8 March, according to the BBC. Just hours before his arrest on 9 March, the married father-of-two had been at “work keeping politicians and VIPs safe as part of the Metropolitan Police’s elite Diplomatic Protection Command”, The Telegraph reports.
A former member of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, he underwent firearms training while “working as part of the team protecting Dungeness nuclear power station”, near his Kent home, the paper continues. As a member of Westminster’s Diplomatic Protection Command, Couzens later became responsible for “protecting MPs and other dignitaries in and around the capital”.
He was also a member of the Army Reserve for two years from 2002, serving the 3rd battalion, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, according to The Times.
Everard’s family have described her as “kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable”. In a statement after her body was found, they added: “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.”