The deeply-disturbing complete picture of a sadistic rapist and killer has been revealed after a former police officer pleaded guilty to a crime that shocked the world.
Wayne Couzens, 48, who served in the Metropolitan Police’s elite diplomatic protection unit, confessed to murdering 33-year-old London woman Sarah Everard at the Old Bailey court on Friday.
Everard went missing while walking home in south London on March 3. She had been visiting friends in the Clapham area and was returning to her home in nearby Brixton when she disappeared.
Her body was discovered a week later in woods some 80 kilometres away in Kent, southeast England.
Her disappearance led to vigils and protests and prompted the government to promise enhanced police patrols at night and funding to make the streets safer for women.
Appearing in court via videolink from a high-security prison, Couzens swapped the police uniform for khaki pants and a blue shirt. He bowed his head as he admitted to the killing.
Everard’s family sat in the court as Couzens entered his plea.
Because Couzens pleaded guilty, British newspapers are now free to publish content they previously were unable to run for legal reasons.
The Sun newspaper revealed that the married father-of-two was given the nickname The Rapist by colleagues in the Civil Nuclear Constabulary where he worked before the Metropolitan Police because “he gave women the creeps”.
The newspaper wrote that several women have made historic accusations of harassment since Couzens was arrested and that his guilty plea is “more chilling” to friends who thought he was “completely harmless”.
Other accusations published on Friday include that Couzens was suspected of “driving naked from the waist down” and “flashing twice within a few hours at a McDonald’s in Kent three days before snatching Sarah”.
Shocking details of Everard’s murder have been revealed in court.
The Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Carolyn Oakley said 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,” she said.
Couzens had just finished a 12-hour shift when he committed the crime. Police were alerted when Everard was reported missing by her boyfriend.
Couzens had booked a hire car and bought a roll of self-adhesive cling film days before the murder, the court heard.
Camera footage from a passing bus appeared to capture the moment when Couzens intercepted Everard in Balham, south London, as the pair stood by the hire car.
A post-mortem examination revealed Everard died from compression on her neck.
The arrest of a serving officer and the heavy-handed approach to dispersing a vigil in Everard’s honour — which contravened coronavirus rules — led to criticism over the culture within London’s Metropolitan Police force.
A month later, two officers were also charged over inappropriate photographs believed to have been taken of two murdered sisters and later circulated with colleagues.
The victims’ mother Wilhelmina Smallman accused the media and police of not taking their case as seriously, because the sisters were not white.
“We are on a journey to say that we all matter and actually I can now use this specific situation of my girls and Sarah, they didn’t get the same support, the same outcry,” she told the BBC.
“Other people have more kudos in this world than people of colour.” Met police chief Cressida Dick said the force was “sickened, angered and devastated” by Couzens’ crimes, and that she had told Everard’s family “how very sorry I am for their loss, for their pain and their suffering”.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct meanwhile said it had served 12 officers from several forces with notices for gross misconduct or misconduct, following their conduct during the Everard investigation.
Officers from “a number of forces” are alleged to have shared information linked to the prosecution of Couzens via a messaging app.
The police unit is also investigating an “inappropriate graphic” relating to the case that was shared on social media.
— with AFP