UK police officer charged with kidnapping, murder of Sarah Everard

London: A serving British police officer has been charged with the murder and kidnap of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, the Metropolitan Police said on Friday.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said Wayne Couzens has been charged with murder and kidnapping in relation to the death of Everard. The case has sparked an outpouring of anger online about the safety of women in Britain.

A woman stops to view flowers left at the bandstand on Clapham Common to mourn Sarah Everard. Credit:PA

Couzens, 49, works in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, which is responsible for protecting government ministers and buildings, including 10 Downing Street and Palave of Westminister.

He had been arrested on suspicion of Everard’s kidnap on Tuesday night.

This was later upgraded to murder and a separate charge of indecent exposure on Wednesday.

Rosemary Ainslie, head of special crime at the Crown Prosecution Service, 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 AEDT) for his first hearing.”

Police earlier confirmed that a body found in a wood outside London was that of Everard, 33, who disappeared while walking home from a friend’s house in south London last Wednesday.

Sarah Everard was last seen on March 3 as she walked home from a friend’s house in south London.

Her case has led to an outpouring of personal accounts by women of their own experiences and fears of walking streets alone at night, and a campaign for action to address this.

Speaking outside the London police headquarters on Friday, Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave confirmed a body found two days ago was that of the missing woman.

“I know that the public feel hurt and angry about what has happened, and those are sentiments that I share personally,” Ephgrave said.

“I also recognise the wider concerns that are being raised quite rightly about the safety of women in public spaces in London and also elsewhere in the country.”

Everard, a marketing executive, vanished while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London last Wednesday.

She is thought to have walked through Clapham Common towards her house in Brixton – a journey which should have taken around 50 minutes.

She was last captured on a doorbell camera walking along the A205 Poynders Road at around 9.30pm on March 3.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick sought to reassure the public, saying “it is thankfully incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets”.

She added: “But I completely understand that despite this, women in London and the wider public – particularly those in the area where Sarah went missing – will be worried and may well be feeling scared.”

The Met said the arrested officer’s main job was uniformed patrol of diplomatic premises, but would not specify where he had worked. He was not on duty at the time of Ms Everard’s disappearance.

Reuters, London Telegraph

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