Metropolitan Police officer pleads guilty to kidnap and rape of 33-year-old
PC Wayne Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer, has pleaded guilty to the kidnap and rape of Sarah Everard.
He has also accepted responsibility for the killing of the 33-year-old, who went missing while walking home in London in March.
Here is a timeline of key events in Ms Everard’s disappearance:
Wednesday, 3 March
Ms Everard goes missing after leaving a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, at about 9pm.
Saturday, 6 March
The Metropolitan Police issues an appeal over Ms Everard’s disappearance and releases a CCTV image of her. Police say she was thought to have walked through Clapham Common after leaving her friend’s flat and heading towards her home in Brixton. The journey should have taken around 50 minutes.
Sunday, 7 March
Police release footage taken from a private doorbell-type camera showing Ms Everard walking alone along the A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill, south of Brixton. It is unclear if she reached home.
She was last seen wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern, and turquoise and orange trainers, and was thought to have been wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat.
The investigation into her disappearance is being led by Scotland Yard’s Specialist Crime Command because of the “complex nature” of the probe, which combines searches with house-to-house enquiries.
Monday, 8 March
Scotland Yard says it remains “open minded as to all possibilities” over Ms Everard’s disappearance, confirming the search remains a missing persons investigation.
Specialist officers are drafted in from a cross the force and police say they received more than 120 calls from the public regarding the case. They ask anyone who may have relevant dash cam or other footage to come forward.
Tuesday, 9 March
Sniffer dogs search gardens in streets around the search site near Ms Everard’s envisaged route home and in the nearby Oaklands Estate. Officers also search a pond in Clapham Common and drains along the A205.
Fresh images of Ms Everard are also released of her wearing the coat in which she disappeared, in another appeal for the public’s help. Later that day, the Met sets up a cordon around the Poynders Court housing complex on Poynders Road as part of the search, with forensics officers seen examining the area.
Midnight, Tuesday 9 March
The Met announces it has arrested a police officer at an address in Kent in connection with Ms Everard’s disappearance.
Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave says the fact the man is a serving police officer is “both shocking and deeply disturbing”. The Met says a woman has also been arrested at the same location on suspicion of assisting an offender.
The man and woman have been taken into custody. Detective chief inspector Katherine Goodwin says the force is still “doing everything we can to find Sarah”.
Morning, Wednesday 10 March
The Met reveals the officer arrested on Tuesday was not on duty at the time of Ms Everard’s disappearance, but Asst Comm Ephgrave initially refuses to provide details of the offence on which the officer has been arrested on suspicion of or how long he has served on the force.
Detectives begin searching two locations in Kent including a property in Deal and woodland near Ashford. A tent was erected outside a house in Freemens Way, in Deal, and a car was seen being taken away from the property.
A neighbour told ITV News that a police officer lives at the address with his wife and two children. “They just seemed like a normal, regular family, there was nothing strange about them at all,” she said, adding police were digging up the garden.
Ms Everard’s uncle, Nick, talks to the media to say the family are “distraught” – and that “things are utterly dire”. He tells Sky News they are “waiting for positive news from the police”.
Afternoon, Wednesday 10 March
Scotland Yard confirms the police officer arrested over Ms Everard’s disappearance has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
He is later identified as Wayne Couzens, a 48-year-old serving in the force’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.
He was held on Tuesday evening on suspicion of kidnap, before being further arrested on suspicion of murder and a separate allegation of indecent exposure.
Evening, Wednesday 10 March
Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick announces human remains have been found during the search for Ms Everard.
The discovery was made in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent. Police have yet to identify the remains.
Morning, Thursday 11 March
Police are continuing to question the officer arrested on suspicion of the kidnap and murder of Ms Everard.
Afternoon, Thursday 11 March
The Metropolitan Police reveals the officer suspected of kidnapping and murdering Ms Everard has been taken to hospital for a head wound sustained while in custody.
Scotland Yard said the suspect was treated, discharged and returned to the police station where he is being held.
Ms Everard’s family said she “was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable” as they appealed for information about the 33-year-old’s disappearance.
The police watchdog announced it has launched an investigation into whether Metropolitan Police officers “responded appropriately” to a report of indecent exposure following referrals linked to the arrest of the suspect in the case.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said its independent probe follows a “conduct referral” from the force in relation to two officers, which was received on Wednesday night.
This is linked to four other referrals, and all are connected to the arrest of the officer currently being held on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering Ms Everard and for a separate allegation of indecent exposure, the IOPC said.
Afternoon, Friday 12 March
A serving Met Police officer, who was arrested on suspicion of Ms Everard’s kidnap and murder, remains in custody.
Assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave said on Friday that a body found in Kent earlier this week had been formally identified as Ms Everard’s.
Speaking outside New Scotland Yard, he told the media: “As you know, on Wednesday evening detectives investigating the disappearance of Sarah Everard discovered a body secreted in woodland in Kent.
“The body has now been recovered and formal identification procedure has now been undertaken. I can now confirm that it is the body of Sarah Everard.”
The Met Police confirmed that the officer suspected of murdering Ms Everard was accused of exposing himself not just once, but twice, at a south London fast food restaurant three days before her disappearance. Both allegations are the subject of an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation.
The Met said: “On 28 February the Met created a crime report in relation to two separate indecent exposure incidents at a fast food restaurant in south London. It would be inappropriate to comment further given the IOPC investigation.”
Evening 12 March
Mr Couzens is charged with the kidnap and murder of Ms Everard. The Metropolitan Police announce that the police officer had been taken to hospital for a second time in 48 hours for treatment to a fresh head injury sustained in custody. He was then again discharged and returned to police custody.
Saturday 13 March
Mr Couzens is brought before Westminster Magistrates Court, charged with Ms Everard’s kidnap and murder. The 48-year-old police officer is remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on 16 March. He does not indicate a plea.
Tuesday 16 March
Mr Couzens makes his first appearance at the Old Bailey by video link from Belmarsh top security jail in south London. Wearing a red sweatshirt and grey jogging bottoms, the defendant appears to have a wound on his forehead. He speaks only to confirm his name and date of birth. Judge Mark Lucraft QC sets a provisional Old Bailey trial for 25 October with a plea hearing on 9 July.
Thursday 18 March
An inquest opens into the death of the 33-year-old marketing executive. Her parents, brother and sister watch proceedings via video-link. The hearing takes less than half an hour and sees inquest proceedings opened and adjourned pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. A second post-mortem is carried out after the first proved inconclusive.
Tuesday 1st June
A post-mortem found Ms Everard died from compression of the neck, police said.
Tuesday 8th June
Mr Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey and pleaded guilty to the kidnap and rape of Ms Everard.
The court heard the 48-year-old accepted responsibility for the killing of Ms Everard but was not asked to enter a plea to a charge of murder.