Met Police officer Wayne Couzens arrives at court to face charges of murder and kidnap

1 month ago 8

The Metropolitan Police officer charged with the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard was remanded in custody this morning after appearing in court for the first time.

Wayne Couzens, 48, a firearms officer from Scotland Yard's elite Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, was taken to and from Westminster Magistrates' Court in a police security van.  

He was charged last night after being arrested on Tuesday, after the 33-year-old marketing executive disappeared as she walked home to Brixton from a friend's house in Clapham, south London, on March 3.

Today the court heard Miss Everard's body was found inside a builder's bag in Kent and identified through the use of dental records.

Appearing in court wearing a grey tracksuit and bearing a red mark on his head, Couzens stood as the charges were put to him before being remanded in custody before his case is sent to the Old Bailey on March 16. 

A sketch of Wayne Couzens, 48, a firearms officer from Scotland Yard's elite Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, appearing in court this morning

The defendant was remanded in custody and taken from Westminster Magistrates' Court in a security van 

Charged: Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, 33

A police officer outside Mr Couzens' home in Deal, Kent, this morning, which is being searched as part of the investigation

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring said: 'Mr Couzens, I am sending your case to the crown court sitting at the Central Criminal Court, what you might know as the Old Bailey. You will appear there for your first appearance on the 16th of March.

'I don't have the power to consider the question of bail. That will be considered should you wish to make an application to the court on the 16th of March.

'You are therefore remanded in custody until that date, both charges having been sent to the crown court.' 

The father-of-two was yesterday rushed to St George's Hospital for the second time with fresh head injuries.

He was treated for the second injury he sustained while in custody in 48 hours before being discharged and returned to a police station, the Metropolitan Police said.   

Scotland Yard added: 'The suspect was taken to a hospital for treatment to a head injury sustained while in custody in a cell on Friday, March 12. He was being monitored by officers and received immediate first aid.' 

In a statement last night, Rosemary Ainslie, head of special crime at the Crown Prosecution Service, added: 'Following a referral of evidence by the Metropolitan Police related to the death of Sarah Everard, the CPS has authorised the police to charge Wayne Couzens with murder and kidnapping.'

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick visited search sites in Kent today to thank teams involved in continued searches in relation to the investigation.

Police marine unit divers continued their search of ponds in Hoad Wood behind the grounds of the derelict activity centre in Great Chart on Saturday afternoon. 

A lone police officer also stood guard outside the home of Couzens in the seaside town of Deal, Kent as forensics teams continued their search there.

Officers in full bodysuits came in and out of the 1960s terraced three bedroomed property, before getting changed into plain clothes.  

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick visited search sites in Kent today to thank teams involved in continued searches in relation to the investigation

Flowers were laid at the Clapham Common bandstand this morning, with some women saying they would still be attending this evening

Metropolitan police have put up a forensics tent and sealed off a garage which backs onto the tunnels now being searched by specialist officers

Police officers are carrying out fingertip searches of an area of grass land behind the suspect's house in Deal on Friday

Metropolitan Police officers removed their hats in respect alongside funeral directors with the Private Ambulance carrying the remains found in Hoad's Wood near Ashford in Kent left the area

Forensic officers removed a Ducati Scrambler motorbike from the home of Sarah Everard suspect Wayne Couzens

Last night, the Met Police revealed Couzens joined the force two years ago in September 2018 when he worked for a response team covering the Bromley area, before moving to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in February last year.

Speaking outside Scotland Yard, Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave added: 'I would like at this stage to pay tribute to Sarah's family for their fortitude and forbearance through what can only have been the most intensely difficult few days. Our thoughts remain with them as this matter progresses.' 

Marketing executive Sarah was last seen on a doorbell camera at the junction of Poynders Road and Cavendish Road at 9.30pm on March 3 after crossing through Clapham Common. 

On her way home, Miss Everard had spoken to her boyfriend Josh Lowth, 33, on the telephone and arranged to meet the next day. She was reported missing after friends and family were unable to reach her. 

Earlier on Friday, Scotland Yard confirmed that human remains found in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, two days earlier had been identified as Miss Everard.  

The heartbroken family of Miss Everard yesterday paid tribute to the marketing executive, describing her as a 'shining example to us all'. 

Speaking outside Scotland Yard, Mr Ephgrave said Miss Everard's family had been told this 'most distressing news'.

He said: 'As you know, on Wednesday evening detectives investigating the disappearance of Sarah Everard discovered a body secreted in woodland in Kent.

'The body has now been recovered and formal identification procedure has now been undertaken. I can now confirm that it is the body of Sarah.'  

He said his 'thoughts and prayers, and those of the entire organisation' remain with Miss Everard's family 'at this awful time'.

He added: 'Specialist officers remain in constant contact with Sarah's family, and will continue to support them throughout the investigation and beyond.

'That investigation continues at a pace and we have hundreds of officers working round the clock to establish the full circumstances of Sarah's disappearance, and her murder.'  

The Couzens' former garage is on the White Cliffs above the Port of Dover, which is full of tunnels dating back centuries

The military tunnels in Dover and the Fort on Western Heights of Dover, England, also being looked at by police

An aerial view of the Couzens' garden complete with a pool apparently covered over by investigators

In a statement released after the charge was confirmed, the Metropolitan Police shared further employment information about Couzens for 'clarity' in the face of these 'exceptional events'. 

Couzens joined the force in September 2018, and was first posted to South Area where he joined a response team covering the Bromley area. 

He then moved to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command last February, where his primary role was on uniformed patrol duties of Embassies.  

Detectives investigating Couzens were combing a network of military tunnels in the White Cliffs of Dover which run underneath a former garage.

Officers are also searching his home and garden in Deal and the woodland near Ashford where Sarah's body was found on Wednesday.

Couzens was arrested at his home on Tuesday on suspicion of murder and kidnap in connection with the disappearance of Miss Everard.

A woman in her 30s who was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender has been released on bail to return to a police station on a date in mid-April. 

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said his arrest on Tuesday had sent 'waves of shock' through the force. 

She was seen making reassurance patrols on Clapham Common on Friday, near to where Miss Everard vanished. 

Josh Lowth, 33, is the boyfriend of missing Sarah Everard, the woman seen walking between Clapham Junction and Brixton. The couple spoke for around 15 minutes on the phone before Sarah's disappearance

Prior to joining the police, Couzens was in the Territorial Army. He served as a reservist with the 3rd Battalion, the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, based in Canterbury, from 2002 to 2004.

His first armed police job was protecting Dungeness nuclear power station as part of the Strategic Escort Group.

He was equipped with a Heckler and Koch G36 rifle as he accompanied nuclear material being transported around the country. The role came to an end when he failed an annual fitness test. It meant he was effectively demoted to guarding the power station building, with travel halted.

Miss Everard is understood to have walked through Clapham Common towards her house in Brixton ahead of her disappearance on March 3 - a journey which should have taken around 50 minutes. 

Her death has prompted an outpouring of grief from the public, with many women and girls sharing stories online of experiencing violence by men.

It has led to the Home Office reopening a public consultation on how to tackle violence against women and girls, with officials considering a proposal for legislation to protect women against public sexual harassment.

Passersby leave tributes and flowers around the Clapham Common bandstand ahead of a planned vigil tomorrow night

The disappearance of Sarah Everard and the arrest of armed policeman Wayne Couzens

March 3: Sarah disappeared after leaving friend's home Clapham around 9pm. She leaves out of her friend's back gate and speaks to her boyfriend on the phone for 15 minutes.  

March 5: Sarah's family share missing posters of her after they become increasingly concerned that she is still not home, spreading the word online with links to the Missing People charity.

March 6: Met Police release an appeal, saying Sarah was thought to have walked through Clapham Common, heading towards Brixton home, a journey of 50 minutes. They say they are not certain she ever arrived home.

March 7: Police release footage of Ms Everard and say she was walking alone on A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill when she was last seen on CCTV, which has not been released to the police.

March 8: Specialist officers are drafted and 120 calls from public come in. A door-to-door operation sees police speak to 750 families.

March 9: Police search gardens near Ms Everard's route and nearby Oaklands Estate.

Officers also search a pond in Clapham Common and drains along the A205.

Cordon around the Poynders Court housing complex on Poynders Road, forensics officers on scene.

11.59pm: Met police officer Wayne Couzens arrested in Kent on suspicion of kidnap. A woman in her 30s is arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Neighbours say they spotted a Land Rover containing two men watching the property for two hours before around 20 officers raided the house. 

March 10: Specialist police search team arrives in Kent. They search Couzens' home and garden as well as nearby Betteshanger Park which is around two-and-a-half- miles from the house as well as an abandoned leisure complex in Great Chart near Ashford. 

8pm: Dame Cressida Dick confirms human remains were found in woodland in Ashford, Kent in the search for Sarah.  She was unable to confirm whether the remains belonged to the missing woman. 

March 11:  10am: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was 'shocked and deeply saddened by the developments in the Sarah Everard investigation', adding 'we must work fast to find all the answers to this horrifying crime'.

Home Secretary Priti Patel added: 'Every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets without fear of harassment or violence. At this deeply sad and tragic time as we think and pray for Sarah and her family'. 

4pm: Police later confirm the suspect was treated in hospital for a head injury sustained while in custody, before being returned to a police station.

Ms Everard's family release a statement paying tribute to her as a 'shining example to us all', adding that she 'brought so much joy to our lives'.

The Met reveals an extension to the suspect's detention was granted by a magistrates' court, while the woman arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender is released on bail to return to a police station on a date in mid-April. 

6pm: Organisers of a vigil for Ms Everard say they are seeking legal action against the Met after claiming the force reversed its position on allowing the event planned for March 13 to go ahead.

March 12: Searches ramp up in the tunnels carved into the White Cliffs of Dover that run around and below Couzens' former family garage. 

Teams remain at Couzens' home in Deal and in woodland near Ashford where human remains were found. 

2pm: Scotland Yard confirms the body found in Kent woodland is Sarah. Her family have been informed.

9pm: Wayne Couzens is charged with the murder and kidnapping of Miss Everard. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: 'My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with Sarah, her family and friends at this unbearable time. Many women have shared their stories and concerns online since Sarah's disappearance last week.

'These are so powerful because each and every woman can relate.' 

Following confirmation that human remains found in woodland on Wednesday are that of Miss Everard, footballer Marcus Rashford sent his well wishes to the family and called on men to 'play a role' in ensuring women feel safe.

Rashford said the news was 'heartbreaking,' adding: 'I'm so sorry. This should have never happened.

'Men we have a role to play. To listen, to protect, and to allow women to feel safe at whatever time of day. I have sisters, nieces… just horrible. I'm sending my love to Sarah's family'. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury also lent his support to women who have suffered 'the sin of male violence' in a message of support for Miss Everard.

Justin Welby tweeted: 'I am heartbroken for the family, partner and friends of Sarah Everard, and all those whose lives she touched. They are in my prayers.

'May they know the suffering God alongside them in this unimaginable pain.

'Testimony after testimony from women over recent days have shown us something we have known and ignored for far too long: the profound impact of the sin of male violence, intimidation, harassment, sexism and abuse carried out against women.

'It is these sins - and the culture that perpetuates and condones them - that need our urgent repentance, our fervent prayer, and our resolute action as men.'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan added: 'It is devastating news for Sarah Everard's loved ones that the police have identified her body.

'My deepest sympathies - and those of all Londoners - are with them.'

It comes as High Court judge yesterday refused to intervene in a legal battle launched by organisers of a vigil in memory of Miss Everard. 

They previously claimed the Metropolitan Police had 'reversed their position' in allowing the gathering to go ahead, despite assurances it would be socially distanced.

Reclaim These Streets is planning to host the event in south London on Saturday near to where the 33-year-old went missing.

The group brought urgent legal action at the High Court in a bid for a declaration that any ban on outdoor gatherings under coronavirus regulations is 'subject to the right to protest'. 

However, Mr Justice Holgate declined to grant the request - in relation to a gathering planned for Saturday - and left it open for talks between the group and the Metropolitan Police to continue.   

Scotland Yard later said in a statement that large gatherings could 'risk undoing all the hard work to reduce the (Covid) infection rate' and urged people to stay at home rather than attend a vigil.

Despite this, a number of women have said they will attend the London vigil for Sarah regardless of the outcome of discussions with police. 

As the hearing got underway in London earlier on Friday, Mr Ephgrave said: 'I know that the public feel hurt and angry about what has happened, and those are sentiments that I share personally, and I know my colleagues here at Scotland Yard and across the Met share as well.

'I also recognise the wider concerns that have been raised, quite rightly, about the safety of women in public spaces in London and also elsewhere in the country.

'I want to say now that this organisation, and the men and women in it, remain committed to protecting Londoners wherever they are in this city.

'And that commitment is undiminished by these events and if anything that commitment is strengthened by these tragic circumstances.'

Miss Everard's father Jeremy, 67, a professor of electronics at the University of York, and her mother Susan, 63, travelled down to London to help police in their search soon after Miss Everard went missing last Wednesday. 

In a statement released on Thursday, they said: 'Our beautiful daughter Sarah was taken from us and we are appealing for any information that will help to solve this terrible crime.

'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.

'We would like to thank our friends and family for all their support during this awful time and we would especially like to thank Sarah's friends who are working tirelessly to help.'

Steve Lewis, Miss Everard's head teacher at Fulford School, York, told The Times she was 'popular and well-liked' and a 'lovely, bright, intelligent girl who shone within the school'.

She went on to achieve a 2:1 degree in geography at Durham University in 2008 and moved to London about 12 years ago to pursue her career in marketing.

She took a six-month break in 2013 to travel to South America, spending a month at the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, before travelling to Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires, in Argentina.

She supported the Matthew Elvidge Trust, a mental health charity set up in memory of a student who took his own life in 2009.

Miss Everard had just started a new job and was in a relationship with Mr Lowth, a marketing director.

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