The disappearance of Sarah Everard: the week-long investigation so far
March 3: Sarah vanished ‘into thin air’ 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.
Around three miles away Wayne Couzens finishes a 6-hour shift guarding the US Embassy in Battersea.
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 39-year-old woman at the same address 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.
A shirtless Couzens was led from the house in handcuffs with one witness saying: ‘He looked very calm – just walked out’.
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.
3pm: Met Police confirm the arrested man is an officer in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command. They disclose he has now been re-arrested on suspicion of the murder of Sarah Everard and the indecent exposure of a second woman. They refuse to say when or where the alleged indecent exposure took place.
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’.
Detectives investigating Sarah Everard murder suspect Wayne Couzens are searching military tunnels in Dover backing on to his family garage after it emerged he had served in the territorial army 17 years ago.
Met Diplomatic Protection Office Wayne Couzens, 48, first became involved serving as a reservist with the TA two decades ago, where he would have first handled weapons.
He was with the 3rd battalion, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment reservists from 2002 to 2004, which has its HQ in Canterbury.
It was during this time he was working part time at the Couzens family garage business BCB Dover, which itself is built over a spiralling network of former military tunnels.
They are part of a World War II shelter and police have also been seen examining St Martin’s Battery, a gun emplacement in front of BCB.
The Western Heights of Dover, an 18th century fort owned by English Heritage and containing hundreds of tunnels and areas was also being looked at.
Couzens also had an armed job at Dungeness Nuclear Power station as part of Britain’s Strategic Escort Group.
It saw him equipped with a Heckler & Koch G36 rifle as he accompanied nuclear material being transported around the country by road, rail or sea.
But the prestige role came to an abrupt end when he suddenly failed his yearly fitness test.
It meant he was effectively demoted to guarding the power station building with the travel halted.
The new searches came after Couzens was back in custody after being found unconscious with ‘serious self-inflicted head injuries’ in his cell it emerged last night as police also revealed a separate indecent exposure allegation he faces took place three days before her disappearance.
He was arrested late on Tuesday on suspicion of the kidnap and murder of marketing executive Miss Everard, 33, and indecently exposing himself to woman working at a south London takeaway restaurant.
Metropolitan Police have confirmed an investigation has been launched into whether officers responded ‘appropriately’ to the indecent exposure report, which was received by Scotland Yard on February 28 – three days before Sarah vanished while walking home in Clapham.
Sources told The Daily Mail the allegation may not have reached ‘command level,’ so colleagues were unlikely to be aware of it, meaning he was able to continue working as an armed officer right up until his arrest.
They also said the officer had been behaving erratically and had spent a considerable period of time off sick for an unknown issue.
Couzens, 48, was found unconscious in Wandsworth police station on Wednesday.
He was rushed to hospital under armed guard after being given first aid inside the station.
Couzens is understood by MailOnline to have been taken to A&E at nearby St George’s Hospital in Tooting before before being returned to custody after treatment.
He has been returned to custody, and while police have refused to comment on whether or not the injuries were self-inflicted, Met sources said no arrests were expected to be made.
The incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
The IOPC has upheld a separate referral relating to the Met’s handling of an allegation of indecent exposure, which Couzens was also arrested over.
The military tunnels in Dover and the Fort on Western Heights of Dover, England, also being looked at by police today
Metropolitan police are again at the garage previously owned by the Couzens family which backs onto the tunnels
Wayne Couzens, 48, is being held on suspicion of the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard, 33, as well as indecent exposure
Wayne Couzens is presented with an award for his achievements during his time in the territorial army between 2002-2004
Met Police confirmed it had referred itself to the IOPC in relation to the injuries suffered by the suspect, as well as the conduct of two officers relating its investigation into alleged indecent exposure.
A statement released by Scotland Yard read: ‘Following the arrest of a police officer, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) made two referrals, one mandatory and one voluntary, to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
‘These were linked to the conduct of the officer arrested on suspicion of kidnap, murder and indecent exposure.
‘The IOPC has determined both these matters should be locally investigated by the MPS.
‘We also made a mandatory referral in relation to the actions of police after Sarah was reported missing. We await the IOPC’s assessment.
‘A further voluntary referral was made for a conduct matter in relation to the police investigation into the separate allegations of indecent exposure. The IOPC have determined this will be subject to an independent IOPC investigation.
‘We have made another mandatory referral to the IOPC after the man arrested was taken to a hospital for treatment to a head injury sustained while in custody in a cell alone. He was being monitored by CCTV and received immediate first aid. We await the IOPC’s assessment.’
News of the watchdog’s investigation came after Miss Everard’s family shared a moving tribute to the marketing executive.
Father Jeremy, 67, a professor of electronics at the University of York, and her mother Susan, 63, 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.
‘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.’
Its understood human remains found in Ashford, Kent on Wednesday may need to be identified using dental records, which could take weeks.
On Thursday Met Police confirmed a woman aged in her 30s, who was on suspicion of assisting an offender, has been released on bail to return to a police station on a date in mid-April.
Today it was claimed that Couzens worked a 2pm to 8pm shift at the US embassy on the day his alleged victim vanished ‘into thin air’. The building he was guarding is less than three miles from where Miss Everard was last seen at 9.30pm as she walked home to Brixton on March 3.
The US Embassy has refused to comment on the claim, telling MailOnline: ‘We were shocked and saddened to hear the news of Sarah Everard’s disappearance. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this difficult time.’
With the prime suspect still in custody, it also emerged today:
- Couzens was working at the US Embassy just three miles from where Sarah vanished and knocked off work around 90 minutes before she was last seen.
- He was working there as an armed guard
- The police officer’s Ukrainian wife Elena has not been seen since his arrest.
- Her mother says her son-in-law ‘couldn’t have do anything like this’;
- Boris Johnson says he is ‘shocked and deeply saddened by the developments in the Sarah Everard investigation’;
- Priti Patel says every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets without fear of harassment or violence;
- Green Party peer calls for all men to face a 6pm curfew: Baroness Jenny Jones calls for law change to bar males from leaving house in wake of Sarah Everard murder and women campaign to ‘reclaim the streets’;
Officers from the Metropolitan Police laid flowers at the gates of the disused golf course and sports centre close to the woodland where remains feared to be Sarah’s have been found
MailOnline has pieced together Sarah’s final movements as it was claimed that Couzens was working at the US Embassy on the day she vanished
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick confirmed human remains have been found in the week-long search for 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard
The Met arrested one of its own officers, Wayne Couzens, on suspicion of murder, pictured left and right with his wife Elena. CCTV from a bus that passed his alleged victim as she walked home
Police forensic officers visit the home the home of prime suspect Wayne Couzens on Thursday as the investigation continues
Aerial footage shot by the BBC shows the back of the garden complete with a pool apparently covered over by investigators
Police expanded their presence at the site in Ashford where human remains were found last night, including a mobile HQ (pictured being dropped into place) and a diving unit
Police search woodland in Ashford near Kent on Thursday (pictured) where human remains were found. Officers say they are not yet able to say if the remains are Sarah Everard’s
Officers made the horrifying discovery at the disused Great Chart Golf & Leisure Country Club near Ashford (pictured on Thursday)
Couzens’ home in Deal is surrounded with metal walls and is swarming with forensics officers
Police also searched the suspect’s family’s former garage in Dover, which is now disused and abandoned
Father-of-two was arrested after the end of his shift in Westminster
By Sam Greenhill, Emine Sinmaz and Jim Norton for the Daily Mail
Armed policeman Wayne Couzens had only just finished a shift protecting Westminster VIPs when he was arrested.
The married father-of-two is a member of the elite Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection squad – a role that entitles him to carry a firearm and a Metropolitan Police warrant card.
Yesterday relatives described their shock at his arrest, with one describing the 48-year-old officer as ‘a fine upstanding man’ and his mother-in-law declaring: ‘He could not do anything like this.’
A neighbour at the £200,000 three-bedroom house in Deal, Kent, that Mr Couzens shares with his ‘chatty’ wife and two young children said: ‘They just seemed like a normal, regular family. There was nothing strange about them at all.’
Mr Couzens’ armed police unit is responsible for the protection of government buildings and embassies, as well as ministers and visiting heads of state. His unit sometimes guards events attended by senior royals.
His wife is from a remote part of Ukraine and studied biology at one of the country’s leading universities, in Donetsk, before coming to the UK and working as a scientist. She worked at a Boots Opticians in Canterbury and is now the laboratory manager of a successful science firm in Kent.
Last night her mother Nina Sukhoreba, speaking from her home in Kirovograd, 300 miles south of the capital Kiev, said: ‘He could not do anything like this. He is a wonderful family man, a wonderful man. This just sounds crazy to me.’
Since marrying her daughter in 2006, she said Mr Couzens had been striving to learn Ukrainian and had visited the country every year.
She said in the past few days, the couple had been getting their children ready to return to school after the lockdown was lifted.
She said: ‘I talked to my daughter just yesterday and she didn’t tell me anything. She said Wayne was at work and everything was fine. He is a wonderful father. He came to visit with the children and we all walked to the river and he helped me at home and in the garden.’
Born in Dover in 1973, Mr Couzens did not join the police until later in life. He spent 20 years working at his family’s garage business, BCB Dover, established in 1967.
The business closed in 2015. By then both he and a brother had become policemen.
In between leaving the family firm and becoming a Met officer, Wayne Couzens did a spell in the territorial army and worked at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, where he had firearms training, as part of the team protecting Dungeness nuclear power station.
By 2008, he was a traffic officer with Kent Police in Folkestone. It is not known which year he switched to the Met.
He lived in top floor flat of a converted period property in Folkestone for around three years. Neighbours Kelvin and Belinda Neary recalled him as ‘very quiet’, but added he had once rescued an elderly tenant from her flat when a fire broke out.
His landlady Shannette Roy, 74, said: ‘He had only just qualified as a policeman and was working in Dover. He was a nice fellow. The only thing I found strange was when he said he was going over to Ukraine to get his wife and he brought her back. She didn’t speak very good English.
Mrs Roy added: ‘He loved being a police officer. He was just normal, kept the place tidy and paid his rent on time.’
The Couzens family bought their house in 2015. It has a trampoline in the back garden, and their primary-aged son and daughter appear to have spent lockdown making amusing videos posted on YouTube about family life, including how they ‘pranked mum and dad’.
Mrs Couzens proudly posted photographs on her public Facebook page of the family’s holiday to Ukraine in 2017 and another in 2019 to Dubai.
An uncle of Mr Couzens, Kevin Fowle, of Chatham, Kent, told the Mail: ‘He’s never done anything untoward. He is a fine upstanding man.’
A cousin, Stefan Boyce, 29, said he was shocked to hear of his arrest, saying: ‘It’s quite frightening. I’ve heard so much about him being in the police force and how proud the family were.’
A former neighbour said it ‘was very rare’ for Mr Couzens to go out and drink with friends and that he just ‘seemed happy with his kids’.
Couzens remains in custody held on suspicion of the kidnap and murder of Miss Everard and indecent exposure to a second unnamed victim.
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick revealed on Wednesday that human remains were found in the week-long search for Miss Everard in woodland near Ashford, but in more heartbreak for her family she said identification may take ‘considerable time’ – a strong hint that the body found is in a very poor state.
Met Police operations will continue at the woods and in Deal for the rest of the week.
A Kent Police spokesman said: ‘Over the next few days, the Met Police will continue to carry out activities across the area whilst their enquiries progress.’
Two officers in an unmarked Land Rover were said to have been watching the house he shares with his Ukrainian wife in Deal, Kent, for two hours before 20 police sprinted in from around the corner to arrest him six days after his alleged victim vanished.
Police had swooped over something they saw on CCTV on a London bus that passed Sarah as she walked towards Brixton, according to the Daily Telegraph, who said he was working in the hours before his arrest.
A car linked to Couzens – thought to be a hire vehicle – was reportedly picked up on a motorist’s dashcam near to the spot where Sarah disappeared last Wednesday.
One source told MailOnline: ‘If they identified his car from the bus, they will have been able to see him driving all the way home on London and Highways England’s network of cameras.
‘If she was in the car, they will have footage of him with her’.
Detectives also probe whether the suspect used his warrant card to lure her into his car after leaving work guarding the nearby US Embassy, it has emerged.
Scotland Yard are also said to be investigating whether Couzens, 48, used the current Covid-19 lockdown rules to stop the missing woman as she walked home to Brixton from her friend’s home in Clapham, south-west London on the evening of March 3.
Police have ramped up their operation at the rural crime scene this afternoon, setting up a mobile headquarters and sending in a diving unit as well as more officers in multiple riot vans.
Forensic officers in blue boiler suits were seen entering the woods with tripods, cameras and possibly equipment to scan the soil.
MailOnline believes that the woods where the remains were found were known to him because Couzens’ Ukrainian wife and their two children had visited for walks.
It came as 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’.
Couzens was arrested late on March 9 – six days after Miss Everard vanished ‘into thin air’ – when more than 20 officers raided his home on the Kent coast.
It was reported that neighbours noticed a Land Rover parked close to policeman Wayne Couzens’ house in the historic town of Deal, and thought it was being watched by two men inside at around 5pm on Tuesday evening.
Around two hours later up to two dozen officers hidden around the corner are said to have sprinted into the property.
A shirtless Couzens was led from the house in handcuffs with one witness saying: ‘He looked very calm – just walked out’.
His Ukrainian wife Elena, 38, works as a laboratory manager. She was not seen at the couple’s home on Thursday, which remains sealed off behind a metal wall.
They have been described by friends as a ‘very doting couple’ with two children who met online around 12 years ago.
Scotland Yard insisted yesterday that the suspect was not on duty at the time of Sarah’s disappearance.
The armed officer, who is part of the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection (PaDP) armed unit would have been picked up outside the embassy by a minibus and most likely taken to Charing Cross police station.
Once there, like all armed officers, he should have checked his firearm back into the armoury and headed to his locker to get changed.
He should not have gone home in full uniform. Instead, all officers are required to change into their civilian clothes.
The Sun quoted a police source as saying: ‘The working hypothesis is that the suspect saw Sarah on the street for the first time and kidnapped her’.
It is understood that a line of enquiry the police are investigating is whether the suspect may have used this warrant card to engage with the suspect under the pretext of Covid lockdown rules.
A source told The Times that detectives have not yet found link between the suspect and his alleged victim.
Officers are looking through phones, computers and social media. An insider said: ‘So far there is no evidence [of a link]. You can’t be 100 per cent certain at this stage but so far it is a leading line of inquiry that Sarah didn’t know whoever attacked her.’
Detectives searching for Sarah last night found human remains in woodland in Kent – as officers continued to quiz a serving Metropolitan Police colleague on suspicion of her murder. They remain at the scene near Ashford this morning.
The 33-year-old marketing executive ‘vanished into thin air’ after leaving a friend’s house in Clapham, south London at around 9pm on Wednesday, March 3.
Wayne Couzens, a diplomatic protection officer based at the Palace of Westminster, was arrested on Tuesday night over the disappearance.
Priti Patel says ‘every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets’ as many share harrowing personal stories with #saraheverard and #TooManyMen hashtags and Reclaim These Streets marches are announced
Priti Patel has said that ‘every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets’ as dozens share their harrowing personal stories with #saraheverard and #TooManyMen as Reclaim These Streets marches are announced
Priti Patel has said that ‘every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets’ as dozens shared their harrowing personal stories with #saraheverard and #TooManyMen as Reclaim These Streets marches were announced.
The Home Secretary issued a statement following the disappearance of marketing manager Sarah Everard, 33, who went missing on a busy road in Clapham, south London, as she walked home.
Ms Patel vowed that she would ‘do all [she] can to protect women and girls from violence and harassment’ and praised women for sharing their own experiences on social media.
Sarah’s disappearance has ignited fury over the issues of female safety with hundreds of women openly discussing the fear they have felt when alone in public day or night.
Reclaim These Streets marches, designed to show that women should feel safe no matter the time of day, are now being organised.
It comes after a serving Metropolitan Police officer was arrested in connection with her disappearance on suspicion of murder, kidnapping – and a unrelated charge of exposure.
The man, in his 40s, remains in police custody and is being questioned by detectives.
Ms Patel’s statement read: ‘I am deeply saddened by he developments in the Sarah Everard investigation.
‘My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with Sarah, her family and friends at this unbearable time.
‘Many women have shared their stories and concerns online since Sarah’s disappearance last week.
‘These are so powerful because each and every woman can relate. 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. I will continue through my role to do all I can to protect women and girls from violence and harassment.’
Police appeared to be ramping up the search for missing Sarah Everard at the remote derelict leisure centre near Ashford, Kent on Thursday.
Scotland Yard revealed possible human remains had been found at the site close to the M20 motorway through Kent on Wednesday evening and officers appeared to be intensifying their search of the sprawling former complex including acres of woodland.
A Met Police van stationed at the entrance to the remote disused golf course and paintball centre let tens of other marked and unmarked vehicles in and out of the site throughout the day.
Cadaver dogs continued to be walked around the perimeter after suspected human remains were discovered on Wednesday.
A team of specialist divers wearing police baseball caps and waterproofs walked into the site at around 1pm.
Other officers also began to put wellies on as the search appeared to move to wet land.
A huge Met Police marine support unit as previously seen while divers scoured a pond in Clapham Common parked outside shortly before 10.30am.
Aerial views show there are small pools of water behind the former centre near the village of Great Chart which has been abandoned since it closed in 2019.
And the search showed no signs of slowing down when two huge Portakabins were brought in on the back of a lorry at 12.30pm.
The temporary buildings complete with windows and blinds were winched onto the ground by a crane.
Three bunches of orange, white and yellow roses were left outside the entrance by police officers at 1pm.
An officer said they had been given them by members of the public.
One note attached to the flowers read: ‘Sarah we may be strangers but all I can do is hope it’s not you.
‘Our hearts are breaking thinking of your poor family.’
Another read: ‘Sarah, wherever you are. Love from Francesca Hughes. Wish I could be there.’
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick confirmed on Wednesday that human remains were found in the week-long search for Miss Everard.
However, she was unable to confirm whether the remains found in woodland in Ashford, Kent, were those of the missing woman, adding identification may take ‘considerable time.’
Dame Cressida said: ‘As you are aware, a man has been arrested on suspicion of her murder.
‘This evening detectives and search teams investigating Sarah’s disappearance have very sadly discovered what we believe at this stage to be human remains.’
Couzens was arrested for the kidnap of Miss Everard on Tuesday and later re-arrested on suspicion of her murder.
Police also revealed they are quizzing him on suspicion of indecent exposure against a second woman, unrelated to the missing 33-year-old. They would not say when or where the allegation related to.
A woman, 39, was arrested at the same address in Kent on suspicion of assisting an offender.
Describing the circumstances of Miss Everard’s abduction as ‘awful and wicked’, Dame Cressida said on Wednesday the arrest had ‘sent waves of shock and anger’ through the public and her force.
She added: ‘The news today that it was a Metropolitan Police officer arrested on suspicion of Sarah’s murder has sent waves of shock and anger through the public and through the whole of the Met.
‘I speak on behalf of all my colleagues in the Met when I say we are utterly appalled at this dreadful news. Our job is to patrol the streets and to protect people.
‘The investigation is large, fast moving and very determined. We have hundreds of officers and staff who have been working around the clock.
‘Sarah’s disappearance in these awful and wicked circumstances is every family’s worst nightmare.
‘I know Londoners will want to know that it is thankfully incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets.
‘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.
‘You should expect to see continued high levels of police patrols in that area as well as very significant investigative activity.’
Officers were yesterday searching an abandoned mini golf park and leisure centre surrounded by acres of woodland near Ashford ahead of the news that human remains had been discovered.
Detectives had previously been focusing their efforts on searching grasses and ponds on Clapham Common – close to Sarah’s last known location on Poynders Road – but switched their attention when teams travelled 80 miles to Kent to make the arrests.
What we know about the case so far:
- Wayne Couzens said to have finished work as armed officer
- Sarah went missing after visiting a friend’s house and speaking to her boyfriend Josh on the phone
- Officers were able to pinpoint her last known position after scouring CCTV around Clapham Common
- She went off the radar after being seen on Poynders Road, just off the green, shortly after 9.30pm
- Worried friends and family teamed up to help search for clues on the common over the past week
- Flats on Poynders Road were taped off and searched last night by uniformed police and forensic teams
- Just before midnight they arrived at Wayne Couzen’s Deal home and arrested him over the disappearance
- He was arrested on suspicion of kidnap and a woman, 39, on suspicion of assisting an offender
- On Tuesday Couzens re-arrested on suspicion of murdering Sarah and indecent exposure to another woman
- Police have also been combing his house and various wasteland areas near to where the married man lives
- Last night, Cressida Dick confirmed ‘human remains’ were found in woodland in Ashford, Kent
How detectives ‘tracked their own officer after breakthrough from CCTV on a passing London bus’
The Met moved in after a car linked to Wayne Couzens – thought to be a hire vehicle – was reportedly picked up on a motorist’s dashcam near to the spot where Sarah disappeared last Wednesday.
CCTV footage from buses is also said to have provided key evidence.
The well-placed source said: ‘M.I.B Met Intelligence Bureau and the intelligence unit within the Specialist Crime Directorate SCD will have conducted all fast-time intelligence enquiries in relation to the Sarah Everard investigation.
‘Once the suspect’s vehicle was identified by CCTV and its registration was confirmed this information would have immediately been researched by using the Police National Computer PNC and Automatic Number Plate Recognition ANPR.
‘The PNC would have shown the vehicle was either registered to the suspect or he was shown as being insured on it. If, as is believed, he used a hire car, officers would have got his information from the car company and used ANPR as normal.
‘ANPR would have shown where this vehicle had travelled around all relevant times of the enquiry.
‘The suspect would then immediately have been ‘flagged’ to the murder squad detectives, meaning no other unit in the MPS or nationally could conduct any activity against him without speaking to the murder squad.
‘The suspect’s vehicle would have been placed on a covert ANPR system that would provide the Police with real time notifications of where the vehicle was travelling when it passed through ANPR sites.
‘However due to the nature of the offence the police would have needed to immediately ensure that the suspect could not go on to commit any further offences in the hours before any arrest was made of him and whilst other intelligence research was being conducted.’
The source said that a Detective Superintendent would have authorised directed surveillance activity under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIIPA) to be conducted against Couzens.
He continued: ‘It is likely that police surveillance teams from the Met and also Kent Police were then briefed and immediately deployed against the suspect, including his house, place of work and his vehicles, placing him under surveillance in the very few hours before he was arrested and whilst he drove to work and carried out his duties as the intelligence and evidential picture was developing fast time.
‘Senior Commanders in the DPG would have been called in to see Cressida Dick to have the situation explained to them and the sensitivity of what was taking place.
‘The suspect’s lockers and email accounts at work would have been searched covertly to see if there was any evidence immediately available to assist the enquiry.
‘It is possible the police utilised – or at least had the option open to them – of technical surveillance in the location of the suspects home address, such as the placing of covert recording equipment in street furniture like lamp posts.
‘It is likely also that urgent authority from a Deputy Assistant Commissioner from the Met was obtained that gave the Police the power to place a tracking device/s on any vehicle the suspect had access to including that of his wife.
‘Mobile telephone intelligence would also have been completed allowing the police to pinpoint where the suspect had been by using cell-site analysis but also by getting the mobile phone network to provide a ‘threat to life’ response to the Police, essentially tracking the suspect in real-time.’
It is understood detectives began to suspect father-of-two Couzens after a vehicle linked to him, reportedly a hire car, was allegedly seen on another motorist’s dashcam near to where Miss Everard vanished on March 3.
The married police officer was never involved in the search operation for Sarah and it is thought he was detained at his home in Deal, Kent, shortly after finishing a relief shift at the US Embassy in Nine Elms, south west London.
This is around three miles from where Miss Everard was last seen at 9.30pm.
A source last night claimed detectives believe Couzens may have spotted Miss Everard on the street in Clapham and abducted her, using his Metropolitan Police warrant card to persuade her to walk towards his vehicle.
The movements of Couzens’ car were allegedly tracked by Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras.
Couzens is a member of the elite Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection squad – a role that entitles him to carry a firearm and a Metropolitan Police warrant card.
Formed in 2015, the unit is responsible for the protection of government owned buildings and embassies as well as ministers and visiting heads of state.
As part of his armed duties protecting MPs and dignitaries, Couzens has provided static security for major public events attended by senior members of the Royal Family.
All police recruits undergo careful vetting to check whether they have a criminal record when they join the force. To be accepted into the elite Westminster armed unit, officers must face rigorous tests and firearms training.
Detectives carried out a search of Couzens’ locker at the police base in the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, police began searching his £200,000 Kent home and garden while a £20,000 black Seat Exeo was taken away on a lowloader. Officers were also seen photographing a motorbike in the property’s garage.
Police who arrested Couzens are understood to have taken a memory card as part of their investigation.
Detectives are said to have found the micro SD card during a search of the semi-detached property. Couzens had been recently digging part of his back garden up to install a pond, neighbours say.
John Chidwick, 67, who lives nearby, said: ‘He had some timber sheets going spare and I asked if I could have them to build a manure box for my allotment. He was a nice, friendly bloke and well spoken.
‘He hadn’t been living on the road all that long, about four years give or take, but seems to be a family man as most people around here are. I know he’s a police officer.’
Another neighbour said: ‘He kept himself to himself but I knew he was a policeman. I was shocked to see the police. They set up a tent and have been digging up the garden.’
Earlier in the day, Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said investigators hoped Miss Everard was still alive following the constable’s arrest on suspicion of kidnap on Tuesday night.
But hours later, Couzens was rearrested on suspicion of murder in a devastating blow for Miss Everard’s family, who were said to be ‘absolutely distraught’.
They had been desperate for news as the Met continued to maintain publicly there was no evidence she had come to harm.
The missing woman’s stunned uncle Nicholas told MailOnline: ‘It’s shocking and very upsetting. We were not expecting a development like this and it’s difficult to make sense of it.
‘I found out that a police officer had been arrested through the media last night. I spoke to my brother straight away and he was as shocked as me. The whole family is and all our friends. I spoke to him again this morning and we are waiting for an update from the police.
Wayne Couzens, left, is understood to be currently sporting a beard like the one above, and right early in his career
Sarah Everard, 33, ‘vanished into thin air’ after leaving a friend’s house in Clapham, south London on Wednesday night
‘He couldn’t do anything like this’: Mother-in-law of Met officer, 48, arrested on suspicion of murdering Sarah Everard insists he’ is a wonderful father’ and has spent years learning Ukrainian after meeting her daughter, 39, online in 2006
Nina Sukhorebra, Couzens’ mother-in-law, said the suspect, left, was a family man
The mother-in-law of armed policeman Wayne Couzens – currently under arrest for the murder of Sarah Everard – revealed he was at work hours before detectives swooped, and said ‘He could not do anything like this’.
Nina Sukhoreba, 69, the mother of his wife Elena, said the family thought everything was fine the day he was detained.
Retired teacher Mrs Sukhoreba, who lives in Kirovograd, 185 miles south of Kiev, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘He could not do anything like this. He is a wonderful family man, a wonderful man. This just sounds crazy to me.’
Since marrying Elena, 39, in 2006 after meeting online, Couzens had been trying to learn Ukrainian and visited the country every year although had missed 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions.
She added: ‘I talked to my daughter just Tuesday and she didn’t tell me anything.
‘She said Wayne was at work and everything was fine.
‘He is a wonderful father. He came to visit with the children and we all walked to the river and he helped me at home and in the garden.
‘Due to coronavirus they didn’t come this year. I visited them two years ago in the UK.
‘Everything is fine there. Tuesday I literally talked to my daughter and she told me that everything is fine.’
‘The police are doing everything they can and we are grateful to them. I could never have imagined that the investigation could have taken such an unexpected twist.’
Scotland Yard referred itself to the police watchdog last night over the arrest of its own officer and separately over the force’s actions after Miss Everard was reported missing.
David Ladd, 48, said he saw his neighbour being arrested on Tuesday night. He added: ‘I came back last night from a motorbike ride about 10pm and there were a load of plain clothes police officers in the street.
‘They had arrested Wayne. I saw him in handcuffs being put in the back of an unmarked silver car. Uniformed officers turned up and have been outside Wayne’s house since then.
‘Wayne himself was a police officer, he told me when we had a chat about three months ago. Although what exactly he did in the force I don’t know.
‘I’d seen that he had a motorbike and I had some problems with the exhaust on my bike and so went to see him to see if he could help. He gave me a few tips on what to do and we got chatting.’
Pamela Cane, 77, who lives opposite Couzens, said the officer lived at the property with his wife, two young children and a pug dog.
Describing the officer as ‘very friendly’ and part of a ‘perfect family’, she said: ‘The whole situation is horrifying.
‘I can’t believe this. The arrest is more shocking because he’s a police officer. Wayne would also fix bikes in his garage. He was known for helping people with them.’
Couzens first joined Scotland Yard from Kent Police after working at a family garage repairs business in Dover and a spell in the Territorial Army. Said to have an exemplary record, he once heroically rescued an elderly woman from her flat when a fire broke out, a former neighbour claimed.
Last night relatives leapt to his defence, with his uncle Kevin Fowle saying: ‘It has come as a shock. He’s never done anything untoward. There’s no other information I can give you other than he is a fine upstanding man.’
Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin said on Tuesday that the arrest was a ‘significant development’ in the investigation, adding: ‘This is a fast moving investigation and we are doing everything we can to find Sarah.
‘We have seen an overwhelming response from the public and I repeat my request for anyone with information that may be relevant to come forward, no matter how insignificant it may seem.’
Mr Ephgrave added: ‘The arrest this evening is a serious and significant development.
‘We will continue to work with all speed on this investigation but the fact that the arrested man is a serving Metropolitan Police officer is both shocking and deeply disturbing.
‘I understand there will be significant public concern but it is essential that the investigative team are given the time and space to continue their work.’
The Metropolitan Police added the Directorate of Professional Standards is aware of the arrests.
Miss Everard vanished after leaving a friend’s home in Leathwaite Road, Clapham to walk home to Brixton at around 9pm last Wednesday.
She was last seen wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern and turquoise and orange trainers. It is also believed she was wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat.
Josh Lowth, 33, is the boyfriend of missing Sarah Everard, the woman seen walking between Clapham Junction and Brixton. The couple spoke for around 15 minutes on the phone before Sarah’s disappearance
Green Party peer says ALL MEN should face 6pm CURFEW: Baroness Jones calls for ban on males after dark to ‘make women feel safer and lessen discrimination’ as women share their fears of violence in wake of Sarah Everard murder
Men should be banned from being outdoors after 6pm to ‘make women a lot safer’ after the abduction and suspected murder of Sarah Everard in London, a Green Party peer has suggested.
Baroness Jones made the comment in a discussion in the House of Lords during a debate on domestic violence.
The issue of women’s safety has been again thrust into the spotlight following the disappearance of 33-year-old Ms Everard as she walked home to Brixton from her friend’s home in Clapham, south-west London, on March 3.
The strength of feeling saw dozens of women shared their own harrowing stories online with the hashtags #saraheverard and #TooManyMen.
A vigil called Reclaim These Streets’ has been organised to in a show of support that everyone should be able to walk in public without fear.
Tips for men to make women feel more comfortable at night have also been shared on social media.
But amid demands for action, Baroness Jones, a 71-year-old mother of two daughters, went as far as to demand a blanket curfew for men.
Speaking last night, she said: ‘In the week that Sarah Everard was abducted and, we suppose, killed—because remains have been found in a woodland in Kent — I argue that, at the next opportunity for any Bill that is appropriate, I might put in an amendment to create a curfew for men on the streets after 6 pm.
‘I feel this would make women a lot safer, and discrimination of all kinds would be lessened.’
Her calls for a curfew echoed those made during the Reclaim The Night rallies in the 1970s, when members of the Women’s Liberation Movement took to the streets in the wake of the Yorkshire Ripper murders.
Baroness Jones made the comment in a discussion in the House of Lords during a debate on domestic violence
Women took to social media by the thousands to stress that the vulnerability felt when walking alone in the dark resonates with almost all women.
Labour MP Diane Abbott wrote: ‘Even after all these years if I am out late at night on an isolated street & I hear a man’s footsteps behind me I automatically cross the road.
‘It is the habit of a lifetime to try & keep safe. But it should not have to be like this #SarahEverard.’
Actress Katy Brand also said: ‘Important to clarify I think that although instances of kidnap and murder from a stranger are indeed rare, being aggressively followed in the street by a man is not rare at all.
‘I think it would be good to separate the two things. Lots of us have been scared many times.’
Journalist Caitlin Moran added: ‘Being a woman: my ‘outside’ day finishes at sundown. If I haven’t taken the dog for a walk/jogged by then, I can’t. In the winter, it often means the choice between exercise and work. Today, I had to stop work at 4 to exercise. My husband worked until 6, and is now off for a run.
‘I am 45 and it is 2021 and I am essentially under a curfew. Like all women. And there are absolutely no exit plans for this. It’s just presumed women will stay home when it’s dark… forever.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel said ‘every woman should feel safe to walk our streets without fear of harassment or violence’, amid rising calls for action to make streets safer for women at night.
The Home Secretary said that ‘every woman should feel safe to walk on our streets’.
Ms Patel vowed that she would ‘do all [she] can to protect women and girls from violence and harassment’ and praised women for sharing their own experiences on social media.
Downing Street today said that the Government was working with ‘law enforcement agencies, charities, women’s group’ to develop a strategy to ensure women’s safety.
Asked what practical steps the Government is taking now, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: ‘That will help us better target perpetrators and support victims of these crimes and increase our ability to tackle new and emerging forms of violence against women and girls, such as upskirting and revenge porn,’ he added.
‘The Prime Minister said previously it remains his intent to ensure that we work to reduce crime across the country.’
Downing Street also declined to back Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey, when asked about accusations he had politicised the disappearance as part of his campaign ahead of the election in May.
Footage from a doorbell camera last captured images of Miss Everard as she walked along the A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill at around 9.30pm.
Officers sealed off a block of flats on Tuesday as they began a forensic investigation close to where the Durham University graduate was last seen.
It was previously revealed Miss Everard spent a quarter of an hour on the phone making plans to see her boyfriend Josh Lowth the following day, before her mobile was either switched off or ran out of battery.
Mr Lowth, 33, whose LinkedIn says he is Marketing Director at MA Exhibitions, later raised the alarm to police when she failed to meet him as she had arranged, her aunt confirmed.
Speaking at Mr Lowth’s family home in Sidcup, Kent, his father Chris told MailOnline: ‘We are concerned, like everybody is. We really, really want to see her back.’
‘The whole family is obviously very worried about her and just wants her home safely.
‘We’re all pulling together and praying that this awful situation is quickly resolved. We want to thank the media for all their help.’
Mr Lowth shared a Facebook post appealing for anyone who knows where Miss Everand is to get in touch with police.
He wrote: ‘Sarah is still missing. Please share this post to help us to find her. Today, more than ever, we miss our strong, beautiful friend.’
The 33-year-old is understood to have left her friend’s house through a back gate onto the A205 South Circular at around 9pm on March 3.
She then began walking to her home address in Brixton, and should have returned home 50 minutes later.
Miss Everard was last seen on CCTV at around 9.30pm last Wednesday.
Her father Jeremy, 67, a professor of electronics at York University, and mother Sue, 64, a charity worker, are understood to have travelled to London from their home in York. They are being helped in the search by her sister Katie and brother James.
In a statement, the family said: ‘With every day that goes by we are getting more worried about Sarah.
‘She is always in regular contact with us and with her friends and it is totally out of character for her to disappear like this.
‘We long to see her and want nothing more than for her to be found safe and well.
‘We are so grateful to the police and all our friends for all they are doing.
‘We are desperate for news and if anyone knows anything about what has happened to her, we would urge you to please come forward and speak to the police. No piece of information is too insignificant.’
Ahead of the arrests on Tuesday, Ms Goodwin, who is leading the investigation, said there was no information to suggest Ms Everard had ‘come to any harm’.
She added: ‘We’ve released two new images of Sarah as we continue to search for her.
‘Please take a look at them and consider if you saw her on the night she went missing. I am interested in hearing from people who may have been in the area from 9.30pm onward.
‘I want to remain clear that at this time we have no information to suggest that Sarah has come to any harm and we retain an open mind as to the circumstances.
‘We share the wish of her family and friends to have her back safely with her loved ones.’
Police said they had received more than 120 calls from the public and visited 750 homes as part of their investigation into Miss Everard’s disappearance.
Ms Goodwin added: ‘We have seized a number of CCTV recordings but we know that there are likely to be many more out there.
‘Please, even if you’re not sure, check your doorbell or CCTV footage just in case it holds a clue.
‘I’m also asking delivery drivers or anyone with dashcam footage who would have been in the Poynders Road area at approximately 9.30pm on Wednesday to come forward.’
The investigation is being treated as a missing person’s enquiry, but due to its complex nature it is being led by the Met’s Specialist Crime Command.
Superintendent Kris Wright, from the Met’s Central South Area Command Unit which covers Clapham, said on Tuesday: ‘I know that Sarah’s disappearance is weighing on people’s minds and the local community is, of course, concerned about her and may even feel worried.
‘I want them to know that they should expect to see more police officers on patrol in the area as we continue to search for Sarah and talk with the community. If you want to approach them about any concerns you have, please do so.
‘We are here to support the community and we genuinely want to help in any way we can.’
Earlier this week it was reported that other women had come forward to say they had been attacked in the streets around where Miss Everard vanished.
The Metropolitan Police is said to have received a report of a sexual assault on a lone female on January 14, on a road half-a-mile away from where Miss Everard was last seen.
Other women have also reportedly come forward to the police, saying they were followed by groups of men in nearby Balham. Another woman claimed she was followed while walking with a buggy.
The incidents are not thought to be linked to Miss Everard’s disappearance, but were reported to detectives investigating the case following Scotland Yard’s appeal for information.
Anyone who has seen Sarah or who has information that may assist the investigation should call the Incident Room on 0208 785 8244.
Information can also be provided to detectives using the Major Incident Portal or by calling Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
The desperate search that led to patch of desolate woodland: How police spent days trying to piece together Sarah Everard’s last known movements… as ‘human remains’ are found in Kent
The increasingly desperate search for Sarah Everard yesterday narrowed to rainswept woodland 55 miles from where she went missing where officers found human remains.
As officers painstakingly combed 500-acre Hoad’s Wood, locals said it was often used as a dumping ground. Two miles west of Ashford in Kent, the desolate spot is flanked by a railway line and an abandoned golf and paintballing centre.
Rob, a resident whose family owns part of the wood, said: ‘My family used to bury sheep in there in the old days. No one ever goes through it because it’s private. It’s all bramble and trees.’ He said flytippers often dumped rubbish there, including old cars, including a burnt-out silver Ford Focus close to where officers were searching.
It is also 30 miles from the Deal home of suspect Wayne Couzens, 48, who was arrested late on Tuesday night reportedly after a breakthrough from CCTV on a bus that passed Sarah on her route home to Brixton at 9.30pm on March 3.
90 minutes earlier Couzens, an armed officer with the Met’s diplomatic protection squad, is said to have finished a shift guarding the US Embassy close to Battersea Power station, going home to Kent via an armoury to drop off his gun.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick confirmed human remains have been found in the week-long search for 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard
VANISHED AFTER VISITING FRIEND
The grim hunt unfolded a week after Miss Everard, a 33-year-old marketing manager, vanished as she walked home through south London. It is understood the police breakthrough came after officers examined CCTV footage.
Police spent days desperately trying to piece together Miss Everard’s last known movements.
Last Wednesday she visited a friend’s house in Leathwaite Road, Clapham, leaving there at about 9pm. The walk back to her flat in Brixton should have taken her about 50 minutes. But video footage from an estate agent’s CCTV camera near her home showed no sign of her.
From her friend’s house, Miss Everard is believed to have walked across Clapham Common. The ponds in the park were one of the first places searched, by officers in cold-water suits.
Wayne Couzens, left, is understood to be currently sporting a beard like the one above, and right early in his career
In her green rain jacket, blue and white diamond print trousers, blue and orange trainers and green earphones under a white beanie hat, Miss Everard cut a distinctive figure, and police appealed for anyone who might have seen her.
They issued an image of her from a supermarket CCTV camera buying wine on the way to her friend.
As she threaded her way through a network of residential streets, she spoke on the phone to her boyfriend Josh Lowth. Their conversation lasted about 15 minutes, ending shortly before 9.30pm.
‘My Met Police colleagues are all utterly appalled’
Speaking outside Scotland Yard last night, a grim-faced Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick broke the news of the tragic discovery of human remains.
I want to start by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with Sarah Everard’s family and her friends at this very difficult and painful time.
As you are aware, a man has been arrested on suspicion of her murder.
This evening detectives and search teams investigating Sarah’s disappearance have very sadly discovered what we believe at this stage to be human remains… The news today that it was a Metropolitan Police officer arrested on suspicion of Sarah’s murder has sent waves of shock and anger through the public and through the whole of the Met.
I speak on behalf of all my colleagues in the Met when I say we are utterly appalled at this dreadful news.
Our job is to patrol the streets and to protect people… Sarah’s disappearance in these awful and wicked circumstances is every family’s worst nightmare.
I know Londoners will want to know that it is thankfully incredibly rare for a woman to be abducted from our streets.
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 DESPERATION OF HER FAMILY
Miss Everard comes from York, studied at Durham University, and moved to the capital for work around 12 years ago. Intelligent and outgoing, she works for a company that organises trade shows. Her brother James and sister Katie also live in London.
Her gut-wrenching disappearance plunged her family into frantic worry. Her father Jeremy, a professor of electronics at the University of York, and mother Sue, left their £700,000 York home to join the round-the-clock search for their daughter.
They asked the media and the public for help, saying: ‘With every day that goes by we are getting more worried about Sarah.
‘She is always in regular contact with us and with her friends and it is totally out of character for her to disappear like this. We long to see her and want nothing more than for her to be found safe and well.
‘No piece of information is too insignificant.’
Miss Everard’s sister wrote on Facebook: ‘No words. Please share and contact me if you hear anything.’ Mr Lowth begged people to help locate his ‘beautiful friend’.
DOORBELL CAMERA BREAKTHROUGH
Police upgraded the search to the murder squad, but stressed they were still treating it as a missing person case.
The breakthrough came on Poynders Road, a stretch of the capital’s busy South Circular, in Clapham. An image of Miss Everard was captured by a doorbell camera on a house along the road at around 9.30pm.
Police have not released this image, but it is believed to be the last time she was sighted. Cameras further along the same street failed to capture her.
Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin, leading the investigation, had appealed for anyone with footage to come forward – especially anyone driving along Poynders Road.
The Met officer said: ‘The evidence that you have on your dash-cam could be absolutely vital to finding Sarah.’
On Tuesday, a police cordon went up and officers wearing forensic suits conducted fingertip searches along Poynders Road and a nearby housing estate close to Clapham South Tube.
Specialist divers and officers with sniffer dogs were seen looking in ponds in nearby Agnes Riley Gardens. Drains were also inspected during the searches.
Police watchdog is set to probe the Sarah Everard investigation
The probe into Sarah Everard’s disappearance has been referred to the police watchdog.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct confirmed it had received a referral from Scotland Yard regarding one of its officers arrested on suspicion of kidnap, murder and indecent exposure. It has also received a mandatory referral relating to the actions of police after Miss Everard was reporting missing.
An IOPC spokesman yesterday said it was assessing whether further action was needed regarding the conduct of investigators.
HELICOPTERS AND TORCHLIT SEARCHES
Events moved quickly on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Neighbours noticed a Land Rover parked close to policeman Wayne Couzens’ house in the Kent coastal town of Deal, and thought it was being watched. Then around 9pm, some two dozen police swooped.
Locals reported the Couzens’ family garden was being dug up and a police tent erected. Meanwhile, simultaneous searches were launched in scrubland at Betteshanger Park north of Deal and at Hoad’s Wood, 30 miles away.
A homeowner near the latter said officers brandishing torches had descended on the former entrance of the now disused Great Chart Golf Course and adjacent derelict buildings around midnight.
He said: ‘The police were searching ditches and outbuildings. They knocked on our door and asked to search our buildings which of course was fine.
‘The officer said they were from the Met and looking for a ‘high risk missing person’.They had the helicopters out with their searchlights on until about 4am.
‘The area they’re searching has been empty for a couple of years. It’s so remote. Someone would have to know the area, to come here. We only ever get locals round here. It used to be a golf complex and a leisure facility with paintballing. It backs on to woods. There have been more than 20 officers here since last night and they had the sniffer dogs out.’
Miss Everard’s uncle, Nick Everard, described the arrest as a ‘shocking development’.