Twelve police officers from several forces facing probe over Sarah Everard murder case

A police mugshot of killer and rapist Wayne Couzens, 48, who has pleaded guilty to murder (Image: SWNS)

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Twelve police officers are being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct over matters relating to the case of Sarah Everard's killer Wayne Couzens, the watchdog said.

One gross misconduct notice and six misconduct notices relate to a probe into allegations officers from “a number of forces” breached standards of professional behaviour by sharing information linked to the prosecution of Couzens via a messaging app.

Gross misconduct notices have been served to three officers over an investigation into a probationary Met Police constable who allegedly shared an inappropriate graphic relating to the Sarah Everard case with officers over social media before subsequently manning the cordon at the scene of the search for her.

A probe into the Metropolitan Police’s alleged failure to investigate allegations of indecent exposure linked to Couzens in February 2021 continues with two officers being investigated for possible breaches of professional standards that may amount to misconduct.

Sarah Everard was snatched by Wayne Couzens as she walked home from a friend's house in Clapham, south London
(Image: PA)

A separate investigation is also ongoing into claims Kent Police failed to investigate an incident of indecent exposure in 2015, but no notices have been served by the IOPC to officers over this.

An investigation into how Wayne Couzens sustained head injuries while in custody on both March 10 and March 12 following his arrest has almost concluded, the IOPC said, with all officers involved treated as witnesses.

The IOPC said the serving of misconduct notices does not necessarily mean that disciplinary proceedings will follow.

Today Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer, pleaded guilty to murdering Ms Everard in a case that has caused widespread shock and outrage.

The 48-year-old kidnapped Ms Everard in a hire car as she walked home alone from a friend's house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

The sexual predator, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift that morning, went on to rape and strangle the 33-year-old marketing executive.

Police launched an urgent inquiry after Ms Everard was reported missing by her boyfriend Josh Lowth.

Ms Everard's body was found over a week after she went missing in March
(Image: PA)

Couzens, a firearms-trained parliamentary and diplomatic protection officer, wiped his phone just minutes before he was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, on March 9.

The following day – a week after she disappeared – Ms Everard's body was found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just metres from land owned by Couzens.

The killing has sparked protests at the rate of violence against women.

Police were criticised over the manhandling of women at a vigil for Ms Everard attended by the Duchess of Cambridge.
Last month, Couzens pleaded guilty to Ms Everard's kidnap and rape.

Couzens was a serving police officer at the time
(Image: Kent Messenger / SWNS)

On Friday, five members of her family were in court as he pleaded guilty to her murder when he appeared at the Old Bailey by video link from Belmarsh high security jail.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick was also present in the courtroom.

Prosecutor Tom Little QC told the court: "Before the defendant kidnapped Sarah Everard on the South Circular on March 3 this year, he had not previously met her, he did not know her and had no direct or indirect contact with her.

"They were total strangers to each other."

Jim Sturman QC, defending, said: "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'."
The judge, Lord Justice Fulford, set a two-day sentencing hearing from September 29.

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