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Police officer Wayne Couzens pleads guilty to murder of Sarah Everard

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Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard.

Couzens kidnapped Ms Everard in a hire car as she walked home alone from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, in March.

The 48-year-old firearms-trained parliamentary and diplomatic protection officer, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift that morning, went on to rape and strangle the 33-year-old.

Sarah Everard
Image: Sarah Everard, 33, disappeared on 3 March while walking home in Clapham, south London

Last month, Couzens, from Deal in Kent, accepted responsibility for killing Ms Everard and pleaded guilty to her kidnap and rape.

Today, he pleaded guilty to her murder when he appeared at the Old Bailey via a video link from Belmarsh high security jail.

Couzens had booked the hire of a Vauxhall Astra – using his personal details and bank card – on the afternoon of the abduction, and bought a roll of self-adhesive film days before the murder.

Ms Everard’s disappearance sparked a major investigation, with her body being found in a woodland in Ashford, Kent, a week later.

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She was last seen leaving a friend’s house on Leathwaite Road in Clapham, southwest London, at around 9pm on 3 March.

The marketing executive chatted to her boyfriend Josh Lowth on her mobile phone for about 15 minutes as she set off on foot for the two-and-a-half mile journey home to Brixton, south London, from the Clapham Junction area.

That call ended at 9.28pm, and footage from a doorbell camera showed her on her own.

Just three minutes later, a bus camera appeared to capture the moment she was approached by Couzens in Balham, south London.

Two figures could be seen standing by the hire car, which was parked on the pavement with its hazard lights flashing.

After snatching Ms Everard, Couzens drove out of London, arriving in the area of Tilmanstone, near Deal, at 1am.

Investigators tracked the route of the car using CCTV and ANPR cameras and identified the driver as a serving officer through the car hire firm.

In the days that followed, Couzens reported that he was suffering from stress and did not want to carry a firearm any more, according to a case summary.

On 8 March, the day he was due on duty, he reported in sick.

The next day, police arrested Couzens at 7.50pm – 39 minutes after he wiped the data from his mobile phone.