CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses rape, murder and gender-based violence.

Wayne Couzens, the cop who admitted to kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard, didn’t just grab her as she was walking home — first, he used his position as a police officer to falsely arrest her for breaking COVID rules, the court hears.

The world lit up with outrage and grief earlier this year, as 33-year-old Sarah Everard vanished while she was walking home from a friend’s house in the streets of South London. Her body was found near Couzens’ property, and he has since pleaded guilty to murdering her.

Couzens, who was a Metropolitan Police officer until he was fired following his guilty plea, is being sentenced at the Old Bailey, and the details of the abduction that have emerged from the court are chilling in new, awful ways.

Evidence presented to the court by the Prosecution accused Couzens of predating his kidnap of Everard by weeks, with CCTV footage showing him buying petrol, hairbands, and rubble bags. He also ordered police standard-issue handcuffs, which had a double locking mechanisms. It is believed that these are the handcuffs he used to restrain Sarah Everard.

Regarding the abduction, Sarah Everard’s boyfriend described her as “extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise”. The court heard that she would never get into a stranger’s car, unless by force or manipulation.

New details from the prosecution have told the court that Everard didn’t just get into Couzens vehicle — she was arrested.

Prosecutor Tom Little told the Old Bailey that Sarah Everard was kidnapped in a “false arrest” by Couzens, who he says handcuffed her after showing his warrant card.

Witnesses said they saw Couzen handcuff Everard, but just assumed she “must have done something wrong”, reported Sky News.

Little argued the kidnap happened “at the height of the early 2021 lockdown”, and that this made Everard “more vulnerable to and/or more likely to submit to an accusation” that she had broken COVID rules.

Wayne Couzens’ use of his authority as a police officer to arrest, kidnap, rape and murder Sarah Everard isn’t just chilling because the story is evil and heartbreaking — it also reignites fresh concerns for women’s safety. We can tell women to take safety precautions all they want, but if an officer of the law abuses their power like this, what are you supposed to do to protect yourself?

On top of that, many online have condemned the Metropolitan Police after it emerged that Couzens has been linked to three alleged indecent exposure incidents that go as far back as 2015.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is now probing into whether the Met Police failed to investigate two of the allegations relating to Couzens in February, just days before the killing. Kent Police are also being investigated over the third accusation.

This development, the aggressive handling of women by police at Everard’s vigil, and the fact that Couzens was nicknamed ‘The Rapist’ among his colleagues, begs the question on whether the local police culture is complicit in his actions. This, and how much police really signify safety in the first place.

Wayne Couzens will be sentenced for his crimes tomorrow, with the Judge considering a “whole life sentence” — the most serious form of punishment that can be issued in this case.

Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online

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