British police officer admits murdering woman in case that caused national outcry
A British police officer pleaded guilty Friday to murdering 33-year-old Sarah Everard, whose abduction and killing as she walked home from a friend’s house in South London caused a national outcry.
Wayne Couzens previously admitted to kidnapping and raping Everard, a marketing executive who went missing March 3. Couzens entered a guilty plea to murder during a hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court on Friday, appearing by video link from the high-security Belmarsh prison.
A major police investigation was launched after Everard’s disappearance. Her body was found a week later in woodland more than 50 miles southeast of London.
The search for Everard and news of her killing sparked protests over violence against women, with many women sharing experiences of being threatened, attacked or fearful of everyday violence when walking alone.
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Police in the British capital came in for criticism after some women attending a vigil for Everard were detained for breaching coronavirus restrictions.
Couzens, 48, joined London’s Metropolitan Police — also known as Scotland Yard — in 2018 and had most recently served in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command, an armed unit responsible for guarding Parliament and foreign embassies in the capital.
Prosecutor Tom Little said Couzens abducted Everard, whom he did not know, in a rented car. Her body was found in woods close to a piece of land owned by Couzens. Despite his guilty plea, prosecutors said Couzens has not revealed where he raped and killed Everard.
“We still do not know what drove him to commit this appalling crime against a stranger,” said Carolyn Oakley of the Crown Prosecution Service. “Today is not the day for hearing the facts about what happened to Sarah. Today is a day to remember Sarah, and our thoughts remain with her family and friends.”
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Couzens is due to be sentenced during a two-day hearing that starts Sept. 29.
The police force has expressed shock and horror at his crime, but faces an investigation by the policing watchdog over how it handled an allegation of indecent exposure against Couzens days before Everard was abducted.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said she had told Everard’s family “how very sorry I am for their loss, for their pain and their suffering.”
“All of us in the Met are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s truly dreadful crimes,” she said. “Everyone in policing feels betrayed.”
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