What we know about police officer arrested in Sarah Everard investigation
Human remains found in Kent wood identified as disappeared 33-year-old
The arrest of a serving Metropolitan Police officer on suspicion of murder has “sent waves of shock and anger” through the force, according to the commissioner of the Met.
Wayne Couzens, 49, a married father of two from Kent, was arrested at his home on Tuesday night on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who vanished in Clapham, south London, on 3 March.
Human remains discovered in a woodland in Kent have been identified as belonging to the missing woman. Speaking outside Scotland Yard, assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave said that her family had been informed of the “most distressing news” and were being supported.
The force itself is facing an inquiry after it emerged that Couzens had been accused of indecent exposure three days before Everard disappeared. The police watchdog is investigating whether police acted “appropriately” after receiving a report that a man had exposed himself at a fast food restaurant in south London on 28 February.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said in a statement that it had opened “an independent investigation” into whether “Metropolitan Police Service [MPS] officers responded appropriately to a report of indecent exposure”.
The IOPC added that the probe followed conduct referrals relating to two officers, adding: “They are all connected to the arrest of a serving MPS officer on suspicion of kidnap, murder and a separate allegation of indecent exposure.”
Just hours before his arrest this week, Couzens 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 close” near his home, the paper continues. As a member of Westminster’s Diplomatic Protection Command, he later became responsible for “protecting MPs and other dignitaries in and around the capital”, the paper adds.
Police are investigating whether Couzens “used his warrant card to entice Sarah into a car”, The Sun reports, after family members said she “would never have taken a lift from a stranger”. Couzens was arrested after “a car linked to him was allegedly spotted on a motorist’s dashcam” near where Everard was last seen, the paper adds.
Human remains, which Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said are yet to be identified, were found in woods in Ashford, Kent. Sources told The Times that “detectives had not so far found a link between Couzens... and Everard”, adding that “they were still searching digital messages and social media”.
The paper adds that detectives are combing through “phones and computers to determine if there was a link”, but the source said that “so far there is no evidence... You can’t be 100% certain at this stage but so far it is a leading line of inquiry that Sarah didn’t know whoever attacked her.”
Speaking to The Telegraph from her home in Ukraine, Couzens’s mother-in-law, Nina Sukhoreba, said: “He could not do anything like this. He is a wonderful family man, a wonderful man. This just sounds crazy to me.
“I talked to my daughter just yesterday and she didn’t tell me anything. She said Wayne was at work and everything was fine.”