Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens could have been stopped

London police have been slammed for ignoring the “red flags” about an officer who raped and murdered a young woman.

On the evening of March 3, a 33-year-old London woman vanished on her way home from a friend’s house.

In the eyes of women everywhere, she did everything right. She took all the precautions that have been drilled into women since an early age: She left her friend’s home on Leathwaite Road in Clapham, London at a “reasonable” hour. She took the longer, better-lit route back to Brixton, where she lived, a trip that should’ve taken roughly 50 minutes. She spoke on the phone with her boyfriend for about 15 minutes while she walked, making plans for the next day. She was even dressed in bright clothes — a green raincoat, white-and-blue patterned pants, green headphones, and a white beanie.

And still, it wasn’t enough. She never made it home.

A 48-year-old police officer was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping six days later, which was subsequently escalated to suspicion of murder. This week, he was handed a “rare” whole-life sentence for the marketing executive’s kidnapping, rape and murder.

As for his victim, her burned remains were discovered in the Kent woodlands on March 10, roughly 80 kilometres from where she was last seen alive — on security footage at Clapham Common at around 9.30pm the night she disappeared.

Her killing touched a nerve around the world — sparking protests and a wider conversation about male violence, sexual harassment, street harassment, and women’s safety.

Her family have described her as “precious” and “beautiful”; as “the very best person”.

“How dare you take her from me? Take away her hopes and dreams. Her life,” her sister said in a devastating victim impact statement this week.

“Children that will never be born. Generations that will never exist. Her future no longer exists. The future I was supposed to live with my sister no longer exists. You have ruined so many lives.”

Her name was Sarah Everard.

‘Where was the red flag?’

Like so many women — Hannah Clarke, Eurydice Dixon, Kelly Wilkinson — whose murders came before and after hers, police have now admitted they could’ve done more to stop it from happening.

Throughout court proceedings, it’s been revealed that Ms Everard’s killer — Wayne Couzens — hatched the sick kidnap plot weeks before he murdered her, then brazenly tried to cover his tracks.

The cop was seen on multiple CCTV clips buying petrol, hairbands, and rubble bags during his premeditated plot.

The Sun revealed earlier this year that the married father-of-two was given the nickname The Rapist by colleagues in the Civil Nuclear Constabulary where he worked before the Metropolitan Police because “he gave women the creeps”.

An investigation into Couzens’ phone — which was seized after he was arrested for the attack — revealed he was part of a WhatsApp group involving police officers now under investigation over alleged misogynistic, racist and homophobic messages, The Guardianreports.

“We should own this,” Met deputy commissioner, Steve House, said on Friday.

“He was one of us and we need to look at ourselves very, very carefully to understand … how he was allowed to be one of us and what does it say about us as an organisation. Organisationally, we own this guilt.”

Details of previous indecent exposure claims against Couzens emerged on Thursday — accused of being naked from the waist down in a car in 2015, and of twice exposing himself at a London McDonald’s days before he killed Ms Everard.

Details of cars linked to Couzens in both instances were passed to police — but officers failed to identify him through a simple registration plate check, Met assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave confirmed.

Asked by The Guardian if police had enough information to have identified Couzens as a sexual threat to women prior to Ms Everard’s murder, he accepted that that was possible.

“That is an obvious question to ask, and something I have thought about a lot. It’s hard to think about it without knowing what we now know,” Mr Ephgrave said.

“If any of those things had been in a different order, would the outcome have been different? Well, maybe.”

But victims commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird, insisted to the publication that police had turned a blind eye, and chances to stop Couzens had been missed.

“He was accused of flashing when he was in Kent and nothing came of that and three days before he murdered Sarah, he was accused of flashing again,” she said.

“Where was the red flag that should have gone up after these incidents? Surely better notice should have been taken of that.

“There should have been an intervention. If he were arrested for that, the chances are he wouldn’t have been able to do what he did.”

Couzens may have been sentenced to life in prison — but, ultimately, no amount of time behind bars will ever bring justice to her family.

“I can never forgive you for what you have done, for taking Sarah away from us,” her father, Jeremy, said in his victim impact statement.

“You burnt our daughter’s body — you further tortured us — so that we could not see her again … You stopped us seeing Sarah for one last time and stopped me from giving my daughter one last kiss goodbye.

“All my family want is Sarah back with us. No punishment that you receive will ever compare to the pain and torture that you have inflicted on us.

“You murdered our daughter and forever broke the hearts of her mother, father, brother, sister, family and her friends.

“Sarah had so much to look forward to and because of you this is now gone forever … The closest we can get to her now is to visit her grave everyday.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here