Wayne Couzens: British officer falsely accused Sarah Everard of breaking lockdown rules before killing her, court finds

A British police officer falsely accused Sarah Everard of breaking Covid-19 lockdown rules, then handcuffed and arrested her before kidnapping and murdering the 33-year-old, a court has heard.

Wayne Couzens, 48, abducted Everard on March 3 while she was walking home from a friend’s house in south London. He has admitted to her kidnapping, raping and murdering her and is in custody.

At the beginning of a two-day sentencing hearing on Wednesday at London’s Central Criminal Court, prosecutor Tom Little said Couzens targeted Everard on the evening of her disappearance.

Couzens, who was part of the London Metropolitan Police’s (MET) elite diplomatic protection unit at the time, kidnapped her in a “false arrest” by “handcuffing her and showing his warrant card”, Little said.

Couzens then put her into a rental car he had hired “to kidnap and rape a lone woman”, he added.

A couple in a passing car witnessed the kidnapping but mistook it for an arrest by an undercover officer, Little said.

Everard was the victim of “deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation and fire”, Little said.

Couzen burned Everard’s body after killing her.

Everard’s body was found in woodland in Ashford, Kent, about 97km southeast of London, a week after she went missing.

Her case gripped the UK, triggering a national conversation about women’s safety on the streets.

A former boyfriend had given evidence that Everard was “savvy and streetwise” and would not have entered a car with a stranger except “by force or manipulation”, Little said.

On Thursday the court judge will consider whether to hand him a whole-life jail term.

The force has sacked Couzens and admitted his actions “raise many questions and concerns”.