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A SERVING police officer pleaded guilty today to murdering Sarah Everard at a hearing which revealed how he carefully planned to abduct a woman from the streets.
Metropolitan Police constable Wayne Couzens made his plea at the Old Bailey after earlier admitting to the rape and kidnap of Ms Everard.
It came as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announced that 12 officers have been served gross misconduct or misconduct notices in matters relating to the case.
Ms Everard was kidnapped while walking home from a friend’s house in south London on March 3.
The 33-year-old’s body was recovered a week later from woodland near Ashford in Kent, a few metres from land Mr Couzens had bought with his wife in 2019.
He booked a rental car and bought a roll of self-adhesive film days before the murder, the court heard.
He picked up the car on the afternoon of the abduction after finishing a 12-hour shift, and drove around before spotting Ms Everard.
The two were not known to each other prior to the abduction.
Police identified the constable as a suspect after making inquiries about the hired vehicle, which he had booked with his own bank card and details.
During the hearing, it was revealed that Mr Couzens had initially denied murdering Ms Everard when first interviewed by police as part of an elaborate false story to shift the blame.
The officer claimed he had kidnapped Ms Everard for an eastern European gang outside of London after they had threatened to harm his family.
Mr Couzens claimed he was unable to pay for a sex worker so was ordered to find “another girl” otherwise his family would be harmed.
Prosecutor Carolyn Oakley said: “Wayne 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.”
Mr Couzens, who appeared via video link from Belmarsh prison, now faces a mandatory life sentence.
The IOPC revealed that Mr Couzens was accused of indecent exposure as far back as 2015.
It has launched a probe into Kent Police for failing to investigate the claim. No notices have yet been served for this investigation.
Two Met officers are also being investigated for allegedly failing to look into claims of indecent exposure by Mr Couzens just days before the murder, the IOPC said.
While 10 other officers are under investigation over the sharing of information linked to the prosecution on a messaging app.
Ms Everard’s death sparked a national debate and protests around women’s safety.
Responding to hearing, Reclaim These Streets said: “It is maddening that if women get any justice at all it is only when they have already been taken away from us.”
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