Wayne Couzens, a British police officer convicted of the murder of Sarah Everard, used the pretense of Covid rules to kidnap the 33-year-old as she was on her way home.
LONDON – A police officer convicted of the murder of Sarah Everard in London earlier this year used a false pretense that she was violating COVID-19 rules to rape and kidnap her before killing her, A prosecutor told a London court on Wednesday.
Her kidnapping and murder in March inspired a national movement demanding better protection for women, but how the officer, Wayne Couzens, used his official police credentials, equipment and training to commit the crime, For the first time, a detailed explanation was given about this publicly. hearing of his sentence.
Prosecutors described Mr. Couzense’s actions as an attack of “deception, kidnapping, rape, strangulation, fire”.
When Ms Everard was kidnapped on 3 March, Britain was in the midst of a national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. People’s movements were restricted and the rules were often enforced by the local police.
A prosecutor, Tom Little, described in court how Mr. Couzens confronted Ms. Everard in south London after she walked home from a friend’s house and “bringing Ms. Everard into her car for violating lockdown guidelines”. False arrest”.
Mr Couzens, a diplomatic security officer with the Metropolitan Police, used his warrant card – a type of police identification card – before handcuffing him and then driving, according to the prosecutor.
His remains were discovered seven days later in a wooded area near Ashford in Kent, about 60 miles from London.
Mr Couzens worked on a COVID patrol a few months ago, the prosecutor told the court, which gave him an understanding of protocol regarding possible lockdown violations.
A witness passing in a vehicle noticed what was happening and noticed it looked unusual, but thought it was just a police officer who had detained a woman “who had done something wrong,” The prosecutor told the court.
Footage from surveillance cameras shows Ms Everard complied with Mr Cousins’ demand to get in the car, as she most likely believed she was being arrested.
Rights groups reacted with outrage at the information.
The Women’s Equality Party stated that such abduction was “a blatant abuse of power”, and that an independent investigation of sexism in the Metropolitan Police Force and violence against women and girls should be treated as a national threat.
“Women cannot be expected to trust the police when we have to live with this fear,” the party said in a statement. “Misogini is steeped in our institutions.”
Many have criticized the failure of the police to investigate allegations of other sex crimes by Mr. including reports that he exposed himself publicly days before the attack.
On Wednesday, London’s Metropolitan Police posted a statement ahead of the sentencing hearing acknowledging that Mr Cousins’ “action raises many concerns.
“We are sick, outraged and devastated by the crimes of this man who betrayed everything that stood for us,” police said in a statement.
Ms Everard was reported missing by her boyfriend the day after she was kidnapped, when she failed to return home, and soon a missing person poster spread on social media.
The urgency of her disappearance soon turned to grief and then anger after her body was found.
The crime sparked a national movement as women shared their stories of street harassment and accounts of sexual violence, demanding action to address the issue of women’s safety.
This sparked street protests amid the lockdown, with protesters calling for systemic changes in the way police handle crimes against women.
The fact that Mr. Coogens was a police officer only intensified public anger at Ms. Everard’s death. He could face life imprisonment for his crimes.
In July, following the murder of Ms. Everard and other cases of deadly violence against women, the British government announced A new strategy to deal with this type of violence. Measures include proposed harsher punishments for offenders and enhanced policing of public places.
Following Ms Everard’s death and subsequent protests against the police, Home Secretary Priti Patel commissioned a report From an independent watchdog group to review police response to violence against women and girls.
The report, released this month, called for “a radical change in attitudes across systems involving the police, the criminal justice system, local authorities, health and education”.