Sarah Everard: Metropolitan police officer accused of kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard, missing in London


Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on Saturday for his first hearing. He has been remanded in custody and will then appear in Old Bailey Court in London on March 16, according to Met Police.

Everard went missing on March 3 while walking in Clapham, south London, prompting an extensive police search in the area.

Her remains were eventually found more than 50 miles from where she was last seen. A post mortem examination will now take place on Everard’s remains.

Couzens, a police officer whose “primary role was to patrol diplomatic premises in uniform,” was arrested in Kent on Tuesday. He was charged on Friday, according to a statement from Rosemary Ainslie, the CPS’s special crime chief.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct, a police oversight agency, said in a statement on Thursday that it had opened an independent investigation into police actions involving the suspect.
A sketch of Wayne Couzens 'courtroom at Westminster Magistrates'  Court in London on Saturday March 13.
Everard’s disappearance prompted thousands of women to share their own experiences of bullying or harassment as they walked alone at night across the country – and the world.

Many also exchanged notes about the usual precautions they take to try to stay safe when walking alone – like clutching keys between their fingers, pretending to be talking to someone on the phone, or not wearing headphones at night – and expressed anger and frustration that this seems like a necessary step.

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, remembers what it was like to walk around London the night before getting married, a royal source has said. The Duchess paid a private visit to the Everard Memorial in Clapham on Saturday, the source said. She wanted to pay tribute to Everard and his family.

In a Friday statement, the Met said that “in the interest of clarity of these exceptional events” it was releasing further details on Couzens’ employment with the force.
Sarah Everard case sparks wave of women sharing stories of abuse and harassment on UK streets

Couzens joined the Met in September 2018 and was assigned to a response team covering the Bromley area in south-east London. He then joined the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command in February 2020, where his “primary role was to conduct uniformed patrols of diplomatic premises, primarily a range of embassies,” the Met statement read.

Nick Ephgrave, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said on Friday he understood that “women in London and the general public, especially those in the area where Sarah went missing, will be worried and may well be afraid” and that Londoners could expect to see an increase in officers on the streets in the coming days.

“I know the public feel hurt and angry about what happened. And these are feelings that I share personally, and I know my colleagues here at Scotland Yard and across the Met also share.” , Ephgrave said.

‘Reclaim the streets’

A series of vigils had been scheduled across the country for Saturday, but “Reclaim These Streets” events were called off after London police said the Clapham vigil could not proceed, citing coronavirus restrictions, organizers said in a statement on Saturday.

A large crowd of mourners gathered for hours on Saturday night at a makeshift memorial in Clapham, where Everard was last seen.

Crowds gather at a makeshift memorial to Everard in Clapham, south London, where she was last seen.

The crowd observed a moment of silence. Some placed flowers and candles and chanted: “We remember Sarah Everard” and “the united sisters will never be defeated”.

As police began to urge crowds to disperse due to Covid-19 restrictions, mourners could be heard chanting ‘shame on you’ and ‘stop yours’.

Organizers told CNN that police and local officials authorized another vigil Saturday night to commemorate Everard and other women who were murdered by men. It took place in Brixton, where Everard lived, but most of the people stayed at the larger Clapham gathering.

The organizers of “Reclaim These Streets” said they would raise £ 32,000 (around US $ 44,544) for women’s causes, which would also cover £ 10,000 (around US $ 13,920) in possible fines for women. 32 vigils that had been programmed across the country.

Mourners laid flowers and placed candles at the Clapham Memorial.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said on Saturday they were supporting a planned vigil in Manchester, saying in a statement that “women should never have to live in fear or change their behavior to protect themselves on our streets and in our GMP booths with this message and understand why events have been planned to support it. “

“We understand that a number of online events as well as a home vigil have been organized for tonight and GMP absolutely supports them and encourages our communities to join them – they allow people to unite on. this important issue in a Covid – in a manner that is safe and consistent with government regulations as they currently exist, ”he said.

Feeling unsafe in public places

In the UK, kidnapping cases are relatively rare, but new polls indicate sexual harassment and abuse are not.

Over 70% of women surveyed by UN Women UK said they had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces. That figure rose to 97% among women between the ages of 18 and 24, according to polls. The data, released Wednesday, was taken from a YouGov survey of more than 1,000 women commissioned by UN Women UK in January 2021.

The organization’s survey also suggested that women have little confidence in public institutions to deal with the situation.

“Only 4% of women told us they had reported incidents of harassment to an official organization – 45% of women said they didn’t think reporting would help change anything,” UN Women said UK.

Women are not alone in feeling threatened in the street; Men are more likely to be victims of violent crimes involving strangers and acquaintances than women, according to the Annual Crime Survey for England and Wales, published by the UK Office for National Statistics ( ONS).

But government data shows that men are much more likely to be prosecuted for acts of violence against women and men. In the three-year period ending in March 2020, the vast majority of suspects convicted of homicide were men – 93% of the total, according to an ONS homicide report.

CNN’s Amy Cassidy, Flo Davey-Attlee, and Zahid Mahmood contributed to this report.

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