Police officer Wayne Couzens to appear in court charged with murder and kidnap of Sarah Everard

  • Video report by ITV News Reporter Lewis Warner

A Metropolitan Police officer is to appear in court after being charged with the murder and kidnap of Sarah Everard.

Wayne Couzens, 48, was arrested earlier this week after the 33-year-old marketing executive disappeared when walking home to Brixton from Clapham in south London last Wednesday.

He is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Saturday.

In a statement, 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."

Speaking outside Scotland Yard on Friday evening, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: "Sarah's family of course have been informed of this development and remain supported by specialist officers.

  • ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry reported on the latest developments shortly after the charge was announced

"I would like at this stage to pay tribute to Sarah's family for their fortitude and forbearance through what can only have been the most intensely difficult few days.

"Our thoughts remain with them as this matter progresses.

"The investigation continues of course supported by hundreds of officers from across the Met as well as colleagues in Kent Police.

"I would also like to thank at this stage all members of the public who have come forward with information or support for the investigation and would use this opportunity to encourage anyone who thinks they might have useful information to give to get in contact with us."

Cressida Dick on a walkaround in Clapham. Credit: PA

Police said Couzens was taken to hospital again for a head injury - the second time he was taken to hospital while in police custody in three days.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: "The suspect was taken to a hospital for treatment to a head injury sustained while in custody in a cell on Friday, March 12.

"He was being monitored by officers and received immediate first aid.

"He was discharged the same day and returned to custody."

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Couzens joined the Metropolitan Police Service in September 2018. His first posting was to South Area where he joined a response team covering the Bromley area.

He then moved to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command on February 1, 2020, where his primary role was on uniformed patrol duties of diplomatic premises, mainly a range of Embassies.

The charges comes after human remains found in woodland in Ashford, Kent, were confirmed as those of Ms Everard.

Earlier on Friday, Met Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: “As you know, on Wednesday evening detectives investigating the disappearance of Sarah Everard discovered a body secreted in woodland in Kent.

A woman lays flowers for Sarah Everard in Clapham Common. Credit: PA

“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 assistant commissioner said his “thoughts and prayers, and those of the entire organisation” remain with Sarah Everard’s family “at this awful time”.

He added: “Specialist officers remain in constant contact with Sarah’s family, and will continue to support them throughout the investigation and beyond.

Poynders Court in Clapham, which is near to where Sarah Everard was last seen. Credit: PA

“That investigation continues at a pace and we have hundreds of officers working round the clock to establish the full circumstances of Sarah’s disappearance, and her murder."

Ms Everard's family have paid tribute to their "beautiful daughter and sister", and urged anyone with information to help police with their investigation.

In a previous statement, they said: “Our beautiful daughter Sarah was taken from us and we are appealing for any information that will help to solve this terrible crime.

“Sarah was bright and beautiful - a wonderful daughter and sister. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable. She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour.

Sarah Everard's death has sparked a movement of thousands of women sharing their experiences of harassment on the streets.

“She was strong and principled and a shining example to us all. We are very proud of her and she brought so much joy to our lives.

“We would like to thank our friends and family for all their support during this awful time and we would especially like to thank Sarah’s friends who are working tirelessly to help.

“We are so grateful to the police and would like to thank them for all they are doing. We are now pleading for additional help from the public.

“Please come forward and speak to the police if you have any information. No piece of information is too insignificant. Thank you.”

Forensic officers conduct a search behind a house in Freemens Way in Deal, Kent Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Boris Johnson has said he can "totally understand" why the death of Sarah Everard has triggered a "wave of feeling" on the issue of women’s safety.

The prime minister told reporters at Queen’s University Belfast: “Like everybody, I’m shocked and appalled about the news from the Met about Sarah Everard.

"I think that the whole country will be united in their feeling for her friends, her family and will share their shock and their grief.

"I can see, and I totally understand, why this has triggered such a wave of feeling on this issue – on the issue of safety of women and safety of the streets.

"And I want to echo very much what Priti Patel said, which is that no woman should walk our streets in fear – every woman should feel able to walk our streets in safety."

Fulford School in York, which Ms Everard was a pupil at until 2005, released a statement: "Her kindness, care and humanity benefited all who knew her. She spent her days with teachers and friends learning, questioning and developing into the lovely young woman we hear about and some of us were lucky enough to know.

"Her disappearance is truly awful. The last few days have unfolded to devastating effect to her family and friends.

Sarah Everard's death has been confirmed by Met Police Credit: PA

"As a wider society, it rightly asks us to address the fact that women and girls around the country are left open to harassment and threats of violence whilst simply going about their everyday life."

Professor Stuart Corbridge, vice-chancellor of Durham University, also reacted to Ms Everard's death: “We are devastated by the news confirming Sarah’s death. Sarah was a popular and lively member of our university community and retained a large Durham University friendship group. Our thoughts remain with her family and friends at this extremely difficult time."

Social media users, including politicians and celebrities, have paid tribute to the 33-year-old.

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.”