Sarah Everard: Wayne Couzens appears in court charged with murder and kidnap

The 33-year-old’s body was discovered in a large builder’s bag in woodland, magistrates told

Colin Drury@colin__drury
Saturday 13 March 2021 16:18
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The body of Sarah Everard was found inside a large builder’s bag, a court has heard.

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens appeared before Westminster Magistrates charged with the kidnap and murder of the 33-year-old.

Everard, a marketing executive who lived in Brixton, South London, went missing while walking home from a friend’s flat on 3 March.

Her body was discovered in the bag in woodland, in Ashford, Kent, on Wednesday, magistrates were told.

Couzens, 48, arrived at the court at 10am on Saturday morning in a large blue police van, stepping into the dock around 10.30am. He wore a grey tracksuit and appeared to have a red wound on the top of his forehead.

He 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.

He did not indicate a plea and was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.

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, of Deal, Kent, is accused of kidnapping Everard in Clapham.

Ms Martin said she was reported missing by her boyfriend on 4 March and that her body was discovered on 10 March in a wooded area of Ashford, Kent.

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

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

The Metropolitan Police previously said the serving constable had joined the force in 2018, most recently serving in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, an armed unit responsible for guarding the Parliamentary estate and embassies in London.

His main job was uniformed patrol of diplomatic buildings and Scotland Yard said he was not on duty at the time of Ms Everard’s disappearance.

In related developments, a vigil planned to commemorate Everard has been called off after discussions with the Metropolitan Police because of coronavirus regulations.

Organisers from Reclaim These Streets released an update on Saturday morning saying: “We are sorry to confirm that our Clapham vigil scheduled for tonight is cancelled."

They added: "Instead, we are fundraising £320,000 for women’s causes: £10K for every proposed fine for the 32 vigils originally scheduled."

An online event will instead be held, and organisers are encouraging people to light a candle in Everard’s memory.

Commander Catherine Roper, of the Metropolitan Police lead for community engagement, said the force took “no joy” in the cancellation of the vigil but insisted it was the “right thing to do”.