- Sarah Everard was falsely accused of breaking COVID-19 rules before being arrested, kidnapped, then murdered, a court heard.
- A British police officer kidnapped her when she was on her way home from a friend’s house.
- He confessed to kidnapping, raping and murdering.
A serving British police officer falsely accused Sarah Everard of breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules, then kidnapped and murdered the 33-year-old before handcuffing her and arresting her, a court has heard.
Everard, 48, was kidnapped by Wayne Coozens on March 3 while she was on her way home from a friend’s house in south London. He has admitted to kidnapping, raping and murdering her and is in custody at Belmarsh Prison, the United Kingdom’s top security.
At the start of a two-day sentencing hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court on Wednesday, prosecutor Tom Little said Cousins targeted Everard on the evening of his disappearance.
Coogens, who was part of the elite diplomatic security unit of the London Metropolitan Police (MET) at the time, kidnapped him by “handcuffing him and showing his warrant card” in a “false arrest”, Little said.
Cousins then put her in a rental car he had hired “to kidnap and rape a single woman”.
Little said that a couple in a passing car witnessed the kidnapping, but mistook it for an arrest by an undercover officer.
Everard was the victim of “deception, kidnapping, rape, strangulation and fire,” Little said.
Coozen kills Everard after he burns his body.
‘Sick, angry, devastated’
A week after Everard went missing, his body was found in a woodland in Ashford, Kent, about 97 km southeast of London.
Her case gripped Britain, sparking a national conversation about the safety of women on the streets.
A former lover had provided evidence that Everard was “savvy and on the road” and would not enter a car with a stranger other than by “force or manipulation,” Little said.
“The fact that she went to a friend’s house for dinner in early 2021, the lockdown made her more vulnerable and more likely to allege that she had acted in violation of COVID rules in some way ,” he told the court.
Cousins, watched by members of Everard’s family, sat in the courtroom on Wednesday as the judge considered whether to give him a life sentence. The sentence is to be announced on Thursday.
Protesters outside the courtroom were holding banners criticizing police with slogans such as “Police blood on your hands” and let off smoke.
Ahead of the court hearing, the Met said in a statement, “We are sick, angry and devastated by the crimes of this man, who betrayed everything for us.”
The force has sacked Coozens and acknowledged his actions “raise many questions and concerns”, but said it would not comment further until after the sentencing.