A Metropolitan Police officer has been charged with the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard.
Serving police constable Wayne Couzens was charged on Friday evening with kidnapping and killing the 33-year-old marketing executive, who went missing while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London on 3 March.
He is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
Rosemary Ainslie, head of special crime at the CPS, said: “Following a referral of evidence by the Metropolitan Police related to the death of Sarah Everard, the CPS has authorised the police to charge Wayne Couzens with murder and kidnapping.”
It comes after Scotland Yard confirmed on Friday afternoon that human remains found in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, two days earlier had been identified as Everard.
The Met Police said Couzens had worked for the force for around two-and-a-half years after joining in September 2018.
Speaking outside Scotland Yard on Friday evening, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: “Sarah’s family of course have been informed of this development and remain supported by specialist officers.
“I would like at this stage to pay tribute to Sarah’s family for their fortitude and forbearance through what can only have been the most intensely difficult few days.
“Our thoughts remain with them as this matter progresses.
“The investigation continues of course supported by hundreds of officers from across the Met as well as colleagues in Kent Police.
“I would also like to thank at this stage all members of the public who have come forward with information or support for the investigation and would use this opportunity to encourage anyone who thinks they might have useful information to give to get in contact with us.”
In a statement, the force said: “In the interests of clarity about these exceptional events, we are releasing further details of Couzens’ employment with the Metropolitan Police Service.
“Wayne Couzens joined the MPS on 10 September 2018. His first posting was to the south area where he joined a response team covering the Bromley area.
“He then moved to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command on 1 February 2020 where his primary role was on uniformed patrol duties of diplomatic premises, mainly a range of embassies.”
The Met said the investigation continues and is being led by specialist crime command detectives with support from Kent Police.
Scotland Yard now faces an investigation by the police watchdog into its handling of separate allegations of indecent exposure against Mr Couzens, who is in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.
He was alleged to have twice exposed himself at a south London fast food restaurant three days before Ms Everard went missing.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is to probe whether two officers “responded appropriately” in their investigation.
The watchdog is also assessing a referral relating to police actions after Ms Everard was reported missing, as well as another in relation to Mr Couzens being taken to hospital while in police custody.
He was treated for a head injury sustained while alone in his cell on Thursday. The Met said he received immediate first aid and was later discharged.
However, the force said on Friday evening Mr Couzens had been taken to hospital for a second time in 48 hours for treatment to a fresh head injury sustained in custody. He has since been discharged again and returned to a police station.
A forensics team searched an area of land outside the back fence of Mr Couzens’s house in Deal, Kent, as part of the investigation on Friday, while uniformed officers were posted at a derelict garage in Dover, which was run by his family.
Ms Everard is thought to have walked through Clapham Common towards her house in Brixton – a journey which should have taken around 50 minutes.
Her death has prompted an outpouring of grief from the public, with many women and girls sharing stories online of experiencing violence by men.
It has led to the Home Office reopening a public consultation on how to tackle violence against women and girls, with officials considering a proposal for legislation to protect women against public sexual harassment.
On Thursday night, Ms Everard’s family released a statement describing her as a “shining example to us all”, and said she had “brought so much joy to our lives”.
They said: “Our beautiful daughter Sarah was taken from us and we are appealing for any information that will help to solve this terrible crime.”
Sarah was bright and beautiful – a wonderful daughter and sister. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable. She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour.
“She was strong and principled and a shining example to us all. We are very proud of her and she brought so much joy to our lives.
“We would like to thank our friends and family for all their support during this awful time and we would especially like to thank Sarah’s friends who are working tirelessly to help.”
Police said a woman in her 30s, who was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of assisting an offender, had been released on bail to return to a police station on a date in mid-April.