Sarah Everard murder: Police investigate ‘homophobic and racist messages killer swapped with colleagues’

Five serving officers under investigation by Independent Office for Police Conduct over Whatsapp group

Zoe Tidman
Friday 01 October 2021 10:49
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<p>Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick is facing calls to resign to restore women’s confidence in the force following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard</p>

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick is facing calls to resign to restore women’s confidence in the force following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard

A police watchdog is reportedly investigating homophobic, racist and misogynist messages Sarah Everard’s killer is alleged to have exchanged with police colleagues.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was investigating the conduct of five serving officers and a former Metropolitan Police officer on a Whatsapp group.

They are alleged to have exchanged “discriminatory messages” over the course of seven months in 2019.

The messages were discovered during the police investigation into Ms Everard’s murder.

Wayne Couzens, a former Met officer,was given whole-life prison term for the kidnap, rape and murder of the 33-year-old marketing executive on Wednesday.

The Times reported he is the former officer linked to the Whatsapp group under investigation.

He is alleged to have exchanged misogynistic, racist and homophobic with colleagues, according to the newspaper.

Three of the serving officers under investigation by the IOPC are from the Met, another from Norfolk Constabulary and the final one from Civil Nuclear Constabulary, where Couzens used to work.

“They are being investigated for gross misconduct for allegedly sending messages of a discriminatory and/or inappropriate nature, and for allegedly failing to challenge the messages sent by the others,” the IOPC said in an update on its linked investigations following Couzens’ sentencing.

Two of the Met officers and the former Met officer have also been notified they are being criminally investigated “for improper use of the public electronic communications network”, the watchdog said.

The Met is also investigating whether Couzens committed more crimes before he kidnapped, raped and murdered Ms Everard.

The force has also admitted a previous allegation of indecent exposure may have been missed during his vetting process.

Couzens was also linked to an indecent exposure incident at a McDonald’s in Kent just 72 hours before Ms Everard was abducted in March.

Dame Cressida Dick, the Met commissioner, said Couzens had “brought shame” on the force following his sentencing.

Couzens was handed a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey on Thursday by Lord Justice Fulford, who said his “warped, selfish and brutal” offences had eroded confidence in the police.

The judge said he had been planning for at least a month before abducting Ms Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on 3 March.

Couzens, who had been “hunting” for a victim, used his warrant card and handcuffs to snatch the marketing executive off the street using Covid lockdown rules to make a false arrest.

Lord Justice Fulford said the case in which a serving officer abused his position was so exceptional it warranted a whole life order, meaning Couzens will never be freed.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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