Met officer remanded in custody over Sarah Everard death after court appearance

THE serving Metropolitan Police officer accused of murdering Sarah Everard was remanded in custody after his first court appearance where it emerged her body was found inside a large builder’s bag.

Police constable Wayne Couzens, 48, is charged with kidnapping and murdering the 33-year-old marketing executive, who went missing while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London on March 3.

Her body was found hidden in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, on Wednesday and was formally identified through dental records.

Sarah Everard: police have confirmed that a body found in woodland in Kent is that of the missing York woman

Sarah Everard: police have confirmed that a body found in woodland in Kent is that of the missing York woman

Couzens appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning for his first appearance following his arrest on Tuesday.

The defendant arrived at the central London court at 10am, stepping into the dock around 10.30am.

He wore a grey tracksuit and appeared to have a small red wound on the top of his forehead.

Couzens spoke only to confirm his name and personal details, sitting between two plain-clothes officers in the dock and leaning forward for most of the hearing.

Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring asked prosecutor Zoe Martin to give a brief summary “given the nature of the case and the interest”.

The court heard the officer is accused of kidnapping Ms Everard in the Poynders Road area of Clapham.

Ms Martin said Ms Everard was reported missing by her boyfriend on March 4, with her body found less than a week later.

A police van leaves Westminster Magistrates Court, in London, where serving police constable Wayne Couzens appeared charged with murder and kidnapping related to the death of Sarah Everard. Picture date: Saturday March 13, 2021.

A police van leaves Westminster Magistrates’ Court, in London, where serving police constable Wayne Couzens appeared charged with murder and kidnapping related to the death of Sarah Everard. Picture date: Saturday March 13, 2021.

A post-mortem examination has taken place but no cause of death was given in court.

The prosecutor said Ms Everard had visited a friend in the Clapham Junction area on March 3 and left at around 9pm to make the approximately 2.5-mile journey home.

She called her boyfriend for around 14 minutes and the court heard there has been no further activity on her mobile phone since then, adding that the phone has not yet been recovered.

It is not clear whether the phone had been switched off or run out of battery, she added.

Ms Everard was caught alone on CCTV at quarter past nine, caught again on a camera at 9.28pm, and later caught on the camera of a marked police car at 9.32pm.

At around 9.35pm, a bus camera captured two figures on Poynders Road and a white Vauxhall Astra with its hazard lights flashing.

A police officer places flowers left by members of the public from the cordon to the site as Metropolitan Police continue their search near Great Chart, Kent after a body found hidden in woodland in Kent was identified as that of 33-year-old Sarah

A police officer places flowers left by members of the public from the cordon to the site as Metropolitan Police continue their search near Great Chart, Kent after a body found hidden in woodland in Kent was identified as that of 33-year-old Sarah

Another bus camera captured the same car with both front doors open.

The registration of the vehicle, later confirmed to be a car hired in Dover, was captured and tracked by police as it left London towards Kent.

Judge Goldspring remanded Couzens in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on March 16.

Ms Everard’s death prompted plans for multiple vigils across the country in her memory, as well as calls for more to be done to tackle violence against women.

Organisers Reclaim These Streets announced that a vigil planned for Saturday in Clapham, close to where the 33-year-old disappeared, had been cancelled after police warned it should not go ahead due to coronavirus restrictions.

People have been encouraged to take part in planned online and doorstep events instead.

The group had raised more than £250,000 for women’s charities as of Saturday afternoon, with a target of £320,000.

Before his court appearance, Scotland Yard said that Couzens, of Deal in Kent, was taken to hospital for a second time in 48 hours on Friday for treatment to another head injury sustained in custody.

The Metropolitan Police also said Couzens had served in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command unit but was not on duty at the time of Ms Everard’s disappearance.

Meanwhile, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick visited search sites in Kent on Saturday to thank teams involved for their efforts.

Police in dry suits were seen continuing to search around the area where Ms Everard’s body was found near Ashford.

The Northern Echo | Durham