Sarah Everard: Police find human remains in Kent during search for missing woman

Discovery made in Kent woodland, shortly after Metropolitan Police officer arrested on suspicion of murder

Jane Dalton
Thursday 11 March 2021 08:56
Police search house in Kent as search for Sarah Everard continues

Human remains have been found in the search for Sarah Everard, whose disappearance a week ago sparked a huge police hunt and the arrest of a police diplomatic protection officer.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick said the discovery was made on Wednesday in an area of woodland detectives had been searching in Ashford, Kent.

Ms Everard, 33, a marketing executive, disappeared last Wednesday evening after leaving a friend’s flat in Clapham, southwest London, at about 9pm.

Wayne Couzens, a serving officer, has now been arrested on suspicion of murder and a separate allegation of indecent exposure. He was previously detained on Tuesday on suspicion of kidnap.

Mr Couzens, 48, is in the Metropolitan Police Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command. His main role was uniformed patrol of diplomatic premises, the Met says.

Wayne Couzens is a member of the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command

“This evening, detectives and search teams investigating the disappearance have found, very sadly, what appears to be human remains,” Ms Dick said in a statement.

It was too early to confirm the identity of the remains, that may take “some considerable” time.

“Specialist officers have been with Sarah’s family to update them on the investigation and continue to give them the best support we possibly can,” the commissioner said.

The news that it was a Metropolitan Police officer arrested on suspicion of murder had sent shockwaves and anger through the public and the Met, she continued.

“I speak on behalf of all my colleagues when I say we are utterly appalled at this dreadful, dreadful news.

“Our job is to patrol the streets and to protect people. The investigation is large, fast-moving and extremely determined.” She said hundreds of officers and staff were working around the clock.

“Sarah’s disappearance in awful and wicked circumstances is every family’s nightmare,” Ms Dick said.

She stressed that Londoners should know that it is “thankfully incredibly rare” for a woman to be abducted from the capital’s streets.

Read more: Sarah Everard disappearance: What we know so far

Her thoughts and prayers were with Ms Everard’s family at a “difficult and painful” time, she added.

The Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command guards the parliamentary estate, including Downing Street and the Palace of Westminster, as well as foreign embassies in London.

Ms Everard left her friend’s flat in Leathwaite Road, Clapham, at around 9pm through a back gate and started walking along the South Circular road towards Brixton.

She is thought to have walked across Clapham Common. The last sighting of her confirmed by police was in Poynders Road, from the junction with Cavendish Road, at around 9.30pm.

Detectives on Wednesday searched the area of woodland in Ashford, and a home in Deal, about 30 miles away, believed to be the suspect’s, where witnesses reported police had dug up the garden and removed vehicles. The officers also erected a search tent.

A neighbour in the road said a police officer lived there with his “chatty” wife and two children.

A woman in her thirties, believed to be the man’s partner, is in custody on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Earlier, assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: “The fact that the man who has been arrested is a serving Metropolitan Police officer is both shocking and deeply disturbing.”

Of Ms Everard’s family, who along with her friends, have issued desperate appeals for help via social media, he said: “As a father myself, of four young women, I can only imagine the anguish that Sarah’s family are feeling at this very very difficult time.”

The case has been referred to watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct because it involves a police officer.

A spokesman said it had been decided that the Metropolitan Police would investigate any potential conduct issues linked to the kidnap and murder allegations itself.