Met constable Wayne Couzens formally charged with kidnapping & murder of Sarah Everard

A London police constable has been charged with the kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard. Her case has drawn national attention, sparking debate about women’s safety after she went missing in south London.

London Metropolitan Police constable Wayne Couzens, assigned to protect diplomatic premises, has been formally charged with the kidnapping and murder of Everard that sent shockwaves across Britain.

Couzens is set to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday. He was arrested in relation to Everard's disappearance early March, and remains the only suspect in the gruesome murder. A woman in her 30s, who was initially arrested on suspicion of being his accomplice, has been released on bail and her status in the investigation is unknown.

Three days before Everard’s disappearance, Couzens reportedly flashed two women in a drive-through restaurant, in what is now considered an unrelated incident. However, the police have faced accusations of a hands-free approach to investigating a potential red flag. An officer, who was in charge of the indecent exposure investigation failed to identify Couzens as a suspect in the case, although his car’s plate numbers were reportedly clearly visible in the CCTV footage.

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Everard, a 33-year-old marketing manager, went missing on March 3 as she walked home from Clapham to Brixton in south west London. After her remains were discovered in Kent earlier this week, the case reignited a public debate about safety of women in the streets of British cities.

TV presenter Davina McCall courted controversy after she suggested that abduction and murder of women “are extremely rare” and called on them “be vigilant when out alone.” McCall has faced accusations of downplaying the problem with an “insensitive” tweet. 

While the murder has prompted a torrent of support for Everard’s family and a public debate, some went as far as to call for a blanket ban on men roaming freely in the dimly-lit streets. The suggestion by Green Party politician Baroness Jenny Jones to impose a 6pm curfew on men was not met favorably by the general public, however.

Meanwhile, London police have earned pushback of their own for banning an outdoor vigil in remembrance of Everard, citing Covid-19 restrictions. Organizers even went to court to challenge the Met’s decision, but the judge sided with the force on the issue.

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