UK cop Wayne Couzens pleads guilty to murdering Sarah Everard

A British cop on Friday pleaded guilty to murdering Sarah Everard after snatching her off a London street and raping her.

Wayne Couzens — a member of Scotland Yard’s armed Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command unit — had already admitted at an earlier hearing to kidnapping and raping the 33-year-old marketing executive.

The 48-year-old London cop entered a guilty plea to murder Friday at London’s Central Criminal Court, appearing by video link from Belmarsh high-security prison.

Bearded and wearing a blue sweatshirt, he sat with his head bowed and answered “Guilty, ma’am” when asked how he pleaded.

His guilty pleas represented “truly genuine guilt and remorse for what he did,” his lawyer, James Sturman, told the court.

“As he put it to us this morning, he will bear this burden for the rest of his life, and he deserves to — his words, ‘and I deserve to.’

Wayne Couzens
AP

“He accepts the victims in this case are the Everard family and friends, not him,” Sturman told the court.

Couzens has yet to reveal where he raped and killed Everard, whose disappearance on March 3 sparked a national reckoning on women’s safety in the UK, with royal Kate Middleton among those leaving flowers.

Sarah Everard
Sarah Everard was murdered by former British police officer Wayne Couzens.
METROPOLITAN POLICE/AFP via Getty Images

“We still do not know what drove him to commit this appalling crime against a stranger,” prosecutor Carolyn Oakley said.

“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.”

Signs and flowers are seen at the memorial for Sarah Everard at the Clapham Common Bandstand in London.
Signs and flowers are seen at the memorial for Sarah Everard at the Clapham Common Bandstand in London.
REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Couzens is due to be sentenced during a two-day hearing that starts Sept. 29.

Sarah Everard
Wayne Couzens’ lawyer said he “accepts the victims in this case are the Everard family and friends, not him.”
METROPOLITAN POLICE/AFP via Gett

Everard, 33, was abducted as she walked home from a friend’s house in south London on March 3, her final image caught on grainy security camera footage.

Her body was later found about 50 miles away in woodland in Kent. A post-mortem last month concluded she died from compression of the neck.

She had never met her killer before that night, prosecutor Tom Little said, explaining they were “total strangers.”

Couzens joined London’s Metropolitan Police in 2018 and had most recently served in the specialist armed unit responsible for guarding embassies in the capital and Parliament.

“All of us in the Met are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s truly dreadful crimes. Everyone in policing feels betrayed,” said the force’s top cop, Commissioner Cressida Dick.

Members of the press attempt to photograph Wayne Couzens as a van arrives at the Old Bailey Courthouse in London on March 16, 2021.
Members of the press attempt to photograph Wayne Couzens as a van arrives at the Old Bailey Courthouse in London on March 16, 2021.
EPA/NEIL HALL

“No words can adequately express the profound sadness and anger and regret everyone in the Met [feels over] what happened to Sarah.

“Today as every day our thoughts are with Sarah with her family, with her loved ones and they always will be.”

With Post wires



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Cop admits raping and killing Sarah Everard after kidnapping her

A British cop on Tuesday admitted to raping and killing Sarah Everard after snatching her as she walked home in London.

Wayne Couzens, 48, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey courthouse on Tuesday to kidnapping and raping the 33-year-old marketing executive whose death in March sparked a national awakening over women’s safety.

Sarah Everard
Sarah Everard was reported missing by her boyfriend on March 4, 2021.
AFP PHOTO / METROPOLITAN POLICE via Getty Images

“Responsibility for the killing is also admitted,” his attorney, Jim Sturman, told the court, although Couzens has yet to be asked to enter a plea on a murder charge as medical reports are still being prepared.

Everard’s family was in the London court Tuesday as the Metropolitan Police officer entered his pleas via videolink from Belmarsh Prison.

Police officer Wayne Couzens admitted to killing Sarah Everard.
Police Officer Wayne Couzens admitted to killing Sarah Everard.
Kent Messenger / SWNS

The father of two from Deal in Kent responded, “Guilty, sir” to the charge of kidnapping Everard “unlawfully and by force or fraud” on March 3, and then also raping her after her disappearance.

The officer — who worked for Scotland Yard’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command unit — sat with his head bowed throughout the 20-minute hearing, London’s Evening Standard said.

He was remanded in custody until his next hearing, on July 9, when the murder charge is expected to be addressed, the Standard said. A provisional trial had been set for October.

Everard was reported missing by her boyfriend on March 4 after she had visited a friend in Clapham in south London. Grainy CCTV footage showed her walking home before she was snatched by Couzens.

Her body was found a week later in woods in Kent, more than 50 miles from where she was taken.

The Metropolitan Police said last week that a post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as “compression of the neck.”

Sarah Everard
Women across the UK started sharing experiences of being threatened or attacked following the disappearance and killing of Sarah Everard.
EPA/METROPOLITAN POLICE

Everard’s disappearance and killing caused a nationwide outcry, with women sharing experiences of being threatened or attacked — or simply facing the everyday fear of violence when walking alone.

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was among many who left flowers at a vigil for Everard, one that later sparked uproar over aggressive police tactics.

Tributes to Sarah Everard are seen in Clapham Common, in London.
Tributes to Sarah Everard are laid in Clapham Common, in London.
EPA/NEIL HALL



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Women vow to defy ban on vigils for Sarah Everard in UK murder case

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By Sonia Elks

LONDON, March 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Women in Britain vowed to push ahead with vigils on Saturday to remember murder victim Sarah Everard and protest about violence against women, despite organizers calling off events after police said these would breach COVID-19 restrictions.

Organizers at Reclaim These Streets said they were canceling a vigil on Clapham Common in south London near where Everard was last seen. Numerous other planned vigils around the country also followed suit.

But some women and campaign groups said they would be out anyway while others arranged online events and doorstep tributes for Everard, whose killing has sparked widespread anger and fear about women’s safety.

“To all those still thinking of heading to Clapham Common at 6pm tonight: we will be there! Please bring your sadness and your rage,” said anti-abuse campaign group Sisters Uncut in a post on Twitter.

“Police can ban a mass vigil or protest march but can’t stop people walking on their own or as two. Would suggest that all those that can could take a short walk tonight … ” said another user in a post hashtagged #vigilforSarah.

Everard, 33, disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house on March 3. Her body was later found in woods about 50 miles away in southeast England.

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London police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared in court on Saturday charged with her kidnap and murder.

Her killing has led many women to share their fears of walking alone and experiences of being harassed or attacked by men in public, with calls for more action to be taken to address gendered violence and abuse.

Instead of a vigil on Clapham Common, Reclaim These Streets said it would be hosting an online meeting and asked supporters around the country to take part in a doorstep tribute with candles and lights.

Numerous other vigils were planned around the country, with many organizers also confirming these had been canceled, postponed or moved online.

Currently England is in a national lockdown to stem the coronavirus pandemic and people cannot leave or be outside of their homes except with a “reasonable excuse” and can only be outside with one other person.

London’s Metropolitan police faced criticism over its stance, with Reclaim These Streets saying the vigil would have been safe and legal. Organizers canceled after being told they could face fines of 10,000 pounds ($14,000) each.

“We take no joy in this event being canceled, but it is the right thing to do given the real and present threat of COVID-19,” Commander Catherine Roper, the Met’s lead for community engagement, said in a statement.

She added the police force understood the frustration of the cancellation but there were other ways to mourn in a safe way.

“Oh the irony. Women who want to reclaim the streets told to stay in,” said one woman on Twitter under the name Bev Ayre.

“Are we in Gilead yet?” said another post, referencing Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” in which women’s lives and fertility are heavily controlled.

($1 = 0.7183 pounds) (Reporting by Sonia Elks //news.trust.org)



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