LONDON (AP) – A serving London police officer handcuffed a woman on the pretext that she broke COVID-19 lockdown rules before abducting and murdering her, a prosecutor said on Wednesday.
Wayne Kuzens, 48, appears in London’s Central Criminal Court on charges of kidnapping, raping and murdering 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who went missing on March 3 on her way home from visiting a friend in south London.
The case sparked national outrage and triggered massive protests condemning violence against women.
Couzens has pleaded guilty to the charges. As Prosecutor Tom Little opened his case as members of Everard’s family opened his case, he sat in a packed courtroom with his head bowed.
Little said that Cousins wore his police belt with handcuffs and used his police identity when he “fraudulently” detained Everard. The prosecutor argued that he had also rented a car as part of his plan.
“There was no credible alternative explanation for their need to rent a car other than using that car to kidnap and rape a single woman,” Little said.
The prosecutor argued, “His actions were consistent with the defendant’s, or the victim’s, abduction and rape of a lonely young woman, which he had committed.”
Couzens joined the Metropolitan Police in 2018 and had worked as part of a team guarding diplomatic locations in central London. On the day she abducted Everard, she worked an overnight shift at the US embassy.
Couzens had also worked on COVID-19 patrols and enforcing coronavirus rules, Little said. According to the prosecutor, Everard was on his way home after visiting a friend for dinner while Britain was under lockdown, and that made him more vulnerable to the official’s claim that he violated pandemic regulations Was.
He said a passenger in a passing car witnessed the kidnapping, but mistook it for the arrest of an undercover officer.
A week after Everard’s disappearance, his body was found in woodland in Ashford, Kent, about 60 miles (about 100 kilometers) south-east of London. Prosecutors said Cousins strangled her before setting her body on fire.
Everard’s parents and sister demanded Cousins confront him on Wednesday while reading an emotional witness statement.
Susan, the victim’s mother, said: “It pains me to think about what she went through.” “They treated my daughter like she was nothing and made her hide like she was bullshit.”
Little said Everard’s disappearance led to the most widely publicized missing person investigation ever conducted in Britain.
In the wake of Everard’s killing, the UK government said it would add millions of pounds to its “Safe Streets” fund to deploy more officers on the streets and improve street lighting and closed-circuit television facilities to protect women and girls. will invest. 28 year old primary school teacher murdered Sabina InnFound dead in a London park earlier this month, there has been a renewed focus on women’s safety.
Ahead of Wednesday’s court hearing in the Couzance case, the Metropolitan Police Department said it was “sick, outraged and devastated by the crimes of this man who betrayed everything we stood for.” The force said it would not comment further until the hearing is over.
A judge is expected to sentence Couzens on Thursday.