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Police officer charged with the murder of Sarah Everard

The Metropolitan Police officer accused of her murder remains in custody.

Updated Mar 12th 2021, 9:41 PM

METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER Wayne Couzens has been charged with the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, the Crown Prosecution Service 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.

“He will appear at Westminster magistrates’ court tomorrow (13 March) for his first hearing.

“The function of the CPS is not to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges to a court to consider.

“Criminal proceedings are now active and nothing should be published that could jeopardise the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”

Earlier today, police in London confirmed that a body found in Kent is that of Sarah Everard.

The 33-year-old was reported missing last week after not returning to her home in London after leaving a friend’s house.

A serving Metropolitan Police officer, who is aged in his 40s, remains in custody on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering the marketing executive and detectives have been granted more time to question him.

Human remains were found in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave confirmed those remains have now been identified.

He said: “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.”

Ephgrave said that her family had been told this “most distressing news”.

The Metropolitan Police officer accused of her murder remains in custody, he added.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, said: “It is devastating news for Sarah Everard’s loved ones that the police have identified her body.

“My deepest sympathies – and those of all Londoners – are with them.”

A vigil was due to take place at Clapham Common bandstand in south London on Saturday – but organisers are now seeking legal action after claiming police reversed their position on allowing the event to go ahead.

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said “I know that the public feel hurt and angry about what has happened, and those are sentiments that I share personally, and I know my colleagues here at Scotland Yard and across the Met share as well.

“I also recognise the wider concerns that have been raised, quite rightly, about the safety of women in public spaces in London and also elsewhere in the country.

“I want to say now that this organisation, and the men and women in it, remain committed to protecting Londoners wherever they are in this city.

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“And that commitment is undiminished by these events and if anything that commitment is strengthened by these tragic circumstances.”

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said that women should find another way to pay tribute to Everard rather than an in-person vigil.

Freeman warned that any vigil in a public place would go against coronavirus restrictions.

It comes as Scotland Yard is facing an investigation by the police watchdog into its handling of a separate allegation of indecent exposure against the arrested officer, who is in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is to probe whether officers “responded appropriately” after receiving a report that a man had exposed himself at a fast food restaurant in south London on February 28 – three days before Everard went missing.

With reporting from PA

About the author:

Sean Murray

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