Sarah Everard: Met PC Wayne Couzens pleads guilty to murder

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image captionThe body of Sarah Everard was found hidden in woodland

Met Police officer Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to murdering Sarah Everard.

The 33-year-old vanished while walking home from a friend's house in Clapham, south London, on 3 March.

Ms Everard's boyfriend reported her missing the following day and her body was found a week later in woodland near Ashford, Kent.

Judge Lord Justice Fulford will sentence Couzens at the Old Bailey on 29 September.

He said: "This has been a mammoth investigation which has produced some very significant results in terms of being able to understand what happened."

Prosecutor Tom Little QC said Couzens and Ms Everard "were total strangers to each other".

Couzens' defence barrister told the court: "His pleas today represents a truly guilty plea and remorse for what he did and, as he put it to us this morning, he will bear the burden for the rest of his life – his words: 'as I deserve'."

image copyrightKentOnlineimage captionWayne Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey on Friday

It can now be reported that Couzens hired a car and bought a roll of self-adhesive film days before the murder.

Couzens, 48, previously pleaded guilty to kidnap and rape and accepted responsibility for Ms Everard's death.

At about 21:00 GMT on 3 March, Ms Everard chatted with her boyfriend on the phone as she walked home.

A camera attached to a passing marked police car captured her walking alone at 21:32.

image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionSarah Everard disappeared while walking along a busy road

Just three minutes later, a bus camera appeared to capture the moment she was intercepted by Couzens.

Two figures could be seen standing by the hire car, which was parked on the pavement with its hazard lights flashing.

After abducting Ms Everard, Couzens drove out of London, arriving in the area of Tilmanstone, near Deal, at 01:00.

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Investigators tracked the route of the car using CCTV cameras and identified the driver as a serving officer through the car hire firm.

Couzens had used his personal details and bank card to make the booking, picking up the Vauxhall Astra on the afternoon of the abduction and returning it the next morning.

In the days that followed, Couzens reported he was suffering from stress and no longer wanted to carry a firearm, according to a case summary.

image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionSarah Everard's family were in court when Couzens pleaded guilty

On 8 March, the day he was due on duty, he reported in sick.

The next day, police arrested Couzens at 19:50 – 39 minutes after he wiped the data from his mobile phone.

In a police interview, Couzens concocted an elaborate story and claimed to be having financial problems.

He said he had got into trouble with a gang of Eastern Europeans who threatened him and his family.

A gang demanded he deliver "another girl" after underpaying a prostitute a few weeks before, he said.

He claimed he kidnapped Ms Everard, drove out of London and handed her over to three Eastern European men in a van in a layby in Kent, still alive and uninjured.

image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionA marquee was set up as police searched woodland near Great Chart, Kent

Meanwhile, police found out that Couzens and his wife had bought a small patch of woodland in 2019 in Ashford.

Phone data led officers to the site and at 16:45 a body was found just outside the property boundary.

The remains dumped in a stream inside a large green builders' bag were identified as Ms Everard's by dental records.

Two days after Ms Everard was last seen, Couzens was caught on CCTV buying two green rubble bags at B&Q in Dover.

He went on to order tarpaulin and a bungee cargo net for delivery on 7 March.

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