Sarah Everard: London Police face criticism after officer faces charges of kidnap and murder

A London Metropolitan Police officer was charged with the kidnap and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who disappeared on her walk home.

Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on Saturday for his first hearing. He has been remanded in custody.

Everard disappeared on March 3 while walking in Clapham, south London, prompting an extensive police search in the area. Her remains were eventually found more than 50 miles from where she was last seen.

Couzens, a police constable whose “primary role was uniformed patrol duties of diplomatic premises,” was arrested in Kent on Tuesday. He was charged on Friday, according to a statement from Rosemary Ainslie, the CPS’ head of special crime.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct, a police watchdog agency, said in a statement on Thursday that it had started an independent investigation into police actions involving the suspect.

Everard’s disappearance has prompted thousands of women to share their own experiences of intimidation or harassment while walking alone at night across the country.

A large crowd of mourners gathered for hours Saturday evening anyway at a makeshift memorial in Clapham, where Everard was last seen.

The crowd observed a moment of silence. Some placed flowers and candles, and chanted, “We remember Sarah Everard” and “sisters united will never be defeated.”

As police began urging the crowd to disperse due to Covid-19 restrictions, mourners could be heard chanting “shame on you” and “arrest your own.”