Killer cop's children played near spot Sarah Everard was dumped

Killer cop’s children played near spot Sarah Everard was dumped: How Wayne Couzens took ‘family trip’ to Kent woods where he burned victim’s body four days after kidnapping her off Clapham street

  • Killer police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, hid Sarah’s body in Hoad Woods
  • A few days later he took his family on a trip to the same area to play
  • His children – who cannot be named – played yards from where body was hidden 
  • Callous Wayne Couzens took his wife and children to play at the woods where he had burned Sarah Everard‘s body two days earlier on a family trip out.

    On the way there they had stopped at a service station where he had calmly bought a Lucozade after raping and murdering her. 

    Hours later his two children played happily in grass and overgrowth at Hoad Woods in Kent.

    Just yards away was the lake where Couzens had dumped Ms Everard’s burned body in waste bags. 

    Prosecutor Tom Little QC told the quiet Old Bailey: ‘He allowed his children to play in relative close proximity to where Sarah Everard’s body had been dumped in a pond.

    ‘It follows that the defendant took his family on a family trip to the very woods where days earlier he had left Sarah Everard’s body, then returned to burn it and then returned again to move it and hide it.’ 

    Earlier the court heard how Couzens had used Covid-19 lockdown regulations to kidnap Ms Everard in a ‘false arrest’ before raping her, strangling her and burning her body.

    He used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch Ms Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

    The firearms officer, who had clocked off from a 12-hour shift at the American Embassy that morning, drove to a remote rural area north-west of Dover in Kent, where he parked up and raped Ms Everard.

    The marketing executive, who lived in Brixton, south London, was strangled by 2.30am the following morning.

    Killer police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, hid Sarah's body in Hoad Woods after murdering her

    Killer police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, hid Sarah’s body in Hoad Woods after murdering her

    Marketing executive Sarah Everard, 28, was snatched off the street in Clapham by Couzens

    Marketing executive Sarah Everard, 28, was snatched off the street in Clapham by Couzens

    Police searched waters and woodland to try and find clues and Sarah's remains during probe

    Police searched waters and woodland to try and find clues and Sarah’s remains during probe

    Married Couzens burned her body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland he owned in the woods, near Ashford, Kent, before dumping the remains in a nearby pond.

    He was arrested on March 9 after police trawled through some 1,800 hours of CCTV footage.

    He has pleaded guilty to kidnap, rape and murder and faces a possible full life sentence when he is sentenced by Lord Justice Fulford at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

    Couzens sat in the dock with his head bowed on Wednesday as prosecutor Tom Little QC opened the case in front of a packed courtroom, including Ms Everard’s family.

    He said Ms Everard’s disappearance was one of the most widely publicised missing person investigations the country has ever seen.

    After her body was discovered a week later, it became summarised on social media by the hashtag ‘she was just walking home’, which did not completely describe what had happened, he said.

    ‘Whilst it is impossible to summarise what the defendant did to Sarah Everard in just five words, if it had to be done then it would be more appropriate to do so as deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire,’ said Mr Little.

    Police search woodland in Ashford near Kent (pictured) where human remains were found

    Police search woodland in Ashford near Kent (pictured) where human remains were found

    A Metropolitan Police van and a private ambulance at the scene of the woods near Ashford

    A Metropolitan Police van and a private ambulance at the scene of the woods near Ashford

    Killer officer repeatedly exposed himself to women in lead-up to murder  

    As Couzens rose through police ranks, the first of a series of escalating incidents and clues began to emerge that would horrifically culminate in the murder of Sarah.

    Kent Police – with whom he volunteered from 2005 to 2009 – received a complaint a man had been spotted driving around Dover naked from the waist down.

    No arrests were made and the fact it was suspected to be Couzens was kept secret until after his conviction when the Independent Office for Police Conduct revealed the crime.

    The IOPC revealed the allegation as it confirmed Couzens was suspected of two other indecent exposures at a McDonalds, which were feared not to have been properly probed by the Met force days before he killed Sarah. 


    The court heard Ms Everard was described by a former long-term boyfriend as ‘extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise’ and ‘not a gullible person’.

    He said he could not envisage her getting into a car with someone she did not know ‘unless by force or manipulation’, said the prosecutor.

    Couzens had worked on uniformed Covid patrols in late January to enforce coronavirus regulations, so would have known what language to use to those who may have breached them, he continued.

    He is thought to have been wearing his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray holder, when he kidnapped Ms Everard as she walked home.

    ‘The fact she had been to a friend’s house for dinner at the height of the early 2021 lockdown made her more vulnerable to and more likely to submit to an accusation that she had acted in breach of the Covid regulations in some way,’ said Mr Little.

    The court heard how Couzens had booked a hire car, adding: ‘His movements were consistent with the defendant looking for, or hunting, for a lone young female to kidnap and rape, which is precisely what he did.’

    CCTV footage played in court shows Couzens raising his left arm, holding a warrant card, before handcuffing Ms Everard and putting her into the back of the car.

    The hunt for evidence in Sandwich, Kent, saw police at a number of key areas during search

    The hunt for evidence in Sandwich, Kent, saw police at a number of key areas during search

    An item believed to be some kind of handle was taken away

    A plastic zip lock housing the black item found

    There were two items taken away by forensic experts which appeared to be of interest

    The bag containing various items were taken away from the scene in Sandwich, Kent

    The bag containing various items were taken away from the scene in Sandwich, Kent

    A passing couple witnessed the kidnapping but mistook it for an arrest by an undercover officer, the court heard.

    ‘They were in fact witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard,’ Mr Little said.

    ‘She was detained by fraud. The defendant using his warrant card and handcuffs as well as his other police issue equipment to affect a false arrest.’

    Couzens worked for the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command after joining the Met in 2018, having transferred from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.

    He was sacked by the force after entering guilty pleas.

    Scotland Yard said in a statement ahead of the sentencing hearing: ‘We are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s crimes which betray everything we stand for.

    ‘Our thoughts are with Sarah’s family and her many friends. It is not possible for us to imagine what they are going through.

    ‘We recognise his actions raise many questions and concerns but we will not be commenting further until the hearing is complete

    The disappearance of Sarah Everard and the arrest of armed policeman Wayne Couzens

    March 3: Sarah disappeared after leaving friend’s home Clapham around 9pm. She leaves out of her friend’s back gate and speaks to her boyfriend on the phone for 15 minutes.  

    March 5: Sarah’s family share missing posters of her after they become increasingly concerned that she is still not home, spreading the word online with links to the Missing People charity.

    March 6: Met Police release an appeal, saying Sarah was thought to have walked through Clapham Common, heading towards Brixton home, a journey of 50 minutes. They say they are not certain she ever arrived home.

    March 7: Police release footage of Ms Everard and say she was walking alone on A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill when she was last seen on CCTV, which has not been released to the police.

    March 8: Specialist officers are drafted and 120 calls from public come in. A door-to-door operation sees police speak to 750 families.

    March 9: Police search gardens near Ms Everard’s route and nearby Oaklands Estate.

    Officers also search a pond in Clapham Common and drains along the A205.

    Cordon around the Poynders Court housing complex on Poynders Road, forensics officers on scene.

    11.59pm: Met police officer Wayne Couzens arrested in Kent on suspicion of kidnap. A woman in her 30s is arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

    Neighbours say they spotted a Land Rover containing two men watching the property for two hours before around 20 officers raided the house. 

    March 10: Specialist police search team arrives in Kent. They search Couzens’ home and garden as well as nearby Betteshanger Park which is around two-and-a-half- miles from the house as well as an abandoned leisure complex in Great Chart near Ashford. 

    8pm: Dame Cressida Dick confirms human remains were found in woodland in Ashford, Kent in the search for Sarah.  She was unable to confirm whether the remains belonged to the missing woman. 

    March 11:  10am: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was ‘shocked and deeply saddened by the developments in the Sarah Everard investigation’, adding ‘we must work fast to find all the answers to this horrifying crime’.

    Home Secretary Priti Patel added: ‘Every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets without fear of harassment or violence. At this deeply sad and tragic time as we think and pray for Sarah and her family’. 

    4pm: Police later confirm the suspect was treated in hospital for a head injury sustained while in custody, before being returned to a police station.

    Ms Everard’s family release a statement paying tribute to her as a ‘shining example to us all’, adding that she ‘brought so much joy to our lives’.

    The Met reveals an extension to the suspect’s detention was granted by a magistrates’ court, while the woman arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender is released on bail to return to a police station on a date in mid-April. 

    6pm: Organisers of a vigil for Ms Everard say they are seeking legal action against the Met after claiming the force reversed its position on allowing the event planned for March 13 to go ahead.

    March 12: Searches ramp up in the tunnels carved into the White Cliffs of Dover that run around and below Couzens’ former family garage. 

    Teams remain at Couzens’ home in Deal and in woodland near Ashford where human remains were found. 

    2pm: Scotland Yard confirms the body found in Kent woodland is Sarah. Her family have been informed.

    9pm: Wayne Couzens is charged with the murder and kidnapping of Miss Everard.

    March 13: Wayne Couzens, 48, appears at Westminster Magistrates Court for his first appearanceand is remanded in custody.

    A vigil in memory of Miss Everard is held on Clapham Common sparking scenes that show police officers restraining women.  

    March 14:  A political storm starts brewing over the policing of the vigil in south west London, with some calling for the resignation of Metropolitan Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick

    March 15: Dame Cressida says she will not resign and is even more determined to lead the force. Police crews arrive in Sandwich, Kent, and begin searching for evidence, including in the river.

    March 16: Wayne Couzens, 48, makes his first appearance at the Old Bailey in London over the kidnap and murder of Miss Everard. He is told he could face a four-week trial in October.

    March 17: Searches in Delf Stream in Sandwich, Kent, continue for a third day as police divers scour the water for evidence including Miss Everard’s phone, which is still missing. 


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