Prosecutor: British officer detained murdering victim “by fraud”
LONDON (AP) – A prosecutor argued on Wednesday that a London police officer on duty handcuffed a woman under the pretext of breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules before kidnapping and killing her.
Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared in London Central Criminal Court for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, 33, who disappeared on her way home after visiting a friend in South London on March 3.
Couzens pleaded guilty to the charges. He sat in court with his head bowed as Everard’s family members listened to prosecutor Tom Little open his case.
Little said Couzens wore his police belt in handcuffs and used his police warrant card when he “fraudulently” detained Everard. He had also booked a rental car, the prosecutor argued.
There was “no other credible explanation for his need to hire a car other than to use that car to kidnap and rape a single woman,” Little said.
“His movements were consistent with the fact that the accused was looking for or chasing a young woman alone to kidnap and rape, which he did precisely,” said the prosecutor.
As the office of the Metropolitan Police, Couzens has worked on COVID-19 patrols and coronavirus regulatory enforcement, Little said. Everard being out after going out for dinner at a friend’s house while Britain remained in lockdown made her more vulnerable to the officer’s claim that she had broken pandemic rules, according to the prosecutor.
A passenger in a passing car witnessed the kidnapping but mistook it for arrest by an undercover agent, he added.
Everard’s body was found in a forest in Ashford, Kent, about 60 miles south-east of London, a week after he went missing.
Her disappearance led to one of the most high-profile missing persons investigations the UK has ever seen, Little said.
The case also sparked national outrage and sparked large-scale protests denouncing violence against women.
Before the hearing, the Metropolitan Police Department said it was “disgusted, angry and devastated by this man’s crimes, which betray all we stand for.” The force said it would not make any further comment until the end of the hearing.
A judge is expected to sentence Couzens on Thursday.