Police officer charged with kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard

A Metropolitan Police officer has been charged with the murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard.

Serving police constable Wayne Couzens was charged on Friday evening with kidnapping and killing the marketing executive, who went missing while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London on March 3.

He is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.

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In a statement, Rosemary Ainslie, head of special crime at the CPS, 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.”

It comes as Scotland Yard confirmed on Friday afternoon that human remains found in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, two days earlier had been identified as Ms Everard.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: “Clearly Sarah’s family have been updated with this most distressing news.

“I just want to pause for a moment and say that my thoughts and prayers, and those of the entire organisation, remain with her and with them at this awful time.”

Scotland Yard is facing an investigation by the police watchdog into its handling of separate allegations of indecent exposure against Couzens, who is in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.

He was alleged to have twice exposed himself at a south London fast food restaurant three days before Ms Everard went missing.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is to probe whether two officers “responded appropriately” in their investigation.

A forensics team searched an area of land outside the back fence of the Couzens’ house in Deal, Kent, on Friday, while uniformed officers were posted at a derelict garage in Dover, which was run by his family.

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

Her death has prompted an outpouring of grief from the public, with many women and girls sharing stories online of experiencing violence by men.

It has led to the Home Office reopening a public consultation on how to tackle violence against women and girls, with officials considering a proposal for legislation to protect women against public sexual harassment.

Speaking outside Scotland Yard on Friday evening, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: “Sarah’s family of course have been informed of this development and remain supported by specialist officers.

“I would like at this stage to pay tribute to Sarah’s family for their fortitude and forbearance through what can only have been the most intensely difficult few days.

“Our thoughts remain with them as this matter progresses.

“The investigation continues of course supported by hundreds of officers from across the Met as well as colleagues in Kent Police.

“I would also like to thank at this stage all members of the public who have come forward with information or support for the investigation and would use this opportunity to encourage anyone who thinks they might have useful information to give to get in contact with us.”