Former police officer Wayne Couzens had handcuffed and arrested Sarah Everard before he raped and murdered her, a court has heard
Former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens kidnapped Sarah Everard in a hire car as she was walking home alone from a friend’s house, and went on to rape and murder the 33-year-old marketing executive.
The then-Metropolitan Police officer may have used the coronavirus lockdown rules as an excuse to stop her as she was walking home, lock her in the back of his hire car, before then driving her 80 miles to kill her.
Ms Everard, 33, had breached the coronavirus regulations by visiting a friend for dinner during the third national lockdown back in March.
When Couzens confronted her, she was a mile or so from her home, walking alone with her headphones in her ears.
This comes after the UK government is now considering using the army, in order to help with the fuel deliveries as some petrol brands report that as many as 90% of their sites are now running dry.
A witness had seen Couzens, an off-duty Met Police police officer, cuff and arrest Sarah Everard, and images of them standing next to each other were caught on the security cameras of two buses and a refuse lorry, as well as a marked police car.
Simon Harding, a former senior detective who had played a leading role in the investigation, said : “He could have used COVID as a reason to get her into the back of the car and said, ‘you’re breaching COVID rules’ and arrested her.”
At the time, the UK government was urging the public to stay at home and all social mixing had been banned. The Met Police had threatened to enforce the coronavirus pandemic rules “robustly”, though breaches had been routinely punished with monetary fines.
Mr Harding said: “There were quite severe COVID restrictions in place and not many people were out and about. In fact, you weren’t really supposed to be out and weren’t supposed to be visiting friends.”
Mr Harding said that the security camera footage showed that Couzens and Ms Everard, who was a marketing executive, standing by his car, which had been parked on the pavement with its hazard lights on and its doors left open.
“You can see that the two of them were engaged in conversation. It’s difficult to tell from the footage, but what’s clear from the investigation… is that he had used his police authority, whether his police badge, whether part of his uniform, whatever he was doing, to make her stop,” he said.
“He had to get her into that car somehow, and the main way is to put her under arrest. And one of the witnesses who came forward said they saw Sarah being handcuffed.”
This comes after thousands of people, including key NHS staff and teachers have said that they are unable to get to work due as a result of the national fuel shortage crisis, with some facing the prospect of potentially returning to working from home where possible.
He added: “If a police officer arrested Sarah, she would obviously be confused, alarmed and upset, like anybody would, but she certainly wasn’t the sort of person who would then fight a police officer to get away.”
He said: “It’s probably a route she knew well and felt was safe.
“Even as a man, you might think this was the safest route. It’s well-lit, plenty of properties around.
“Even if there were not many people on the streets, there may have been some looking out of their windows.”