Killer cop Wayne Couzens used his knowledge of Covid patrols to ‘arrest’ Sarah Everard before raping and murdering her, a court heard today.
Chilling CCTV showed the moment he stopped the marketing executive on Poynders Road, in Clapham, before abducting her.
The 48-year-old had finished his shift with an elite diplomatic protection unit hours before he pounced on the 33-year-old as she walked home from a friend’s flat in Clapham, south London, on March 3.
He used his knowledge of Covid patrols to arrest and handcuff Ms Everard for a coronavirus rules breach, before raping and murdering her, the court heard.
CCTV footage seen by the Old Bailey shows the moment Couzens stopped Ms Everard and apprehended her under the pretence of Covid regulations.
Ms Everard’s body was found a week later, more than 50 miles away, hidden inside a green builder’s bag in a stretch of woodland in Ashford, Kent on March 10.
The father-of-two was a firearms officer in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command - who was in more than £29,000 of debt at the time of the attack.
Couzens, of Deal, Kent, admitted murder, kidnap and rape at a previous hearing.
The court heard that a former boyfriend had described the Durham University graduate as “extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise” and “not a gullible person”.
“He could not envisage her getting into a vehicle with someone unless by force and manipulation,” said prosecutor Tom Little QC.
“As the evidence reveals, that is precisely what happened.”
In January this year, Couzens was working in Covid patrols and was aware of coronavirus regulations and the language used on those who may have breached them.
The prosecutor said that he had “arrested” and handcuffed Ms Everard for a breach before raping and murdering her.
“The fact she had been to a friend’s house for dinner at the height of the early 2021 lockdown made her more vulnerable to, and more likely to submit to an accusation that she had acted in breach of the Covid regulations in some way, by going to a friend’s house that evening,” said Mr Little.
In chilling CCTV footage shown to the court, Couzens is seen driving behind Ms Everard before stepping out of the car and standing a few feet apart from her.
“We can see the left hand of the defendant come towards Sarah Everard as though he was showing her something, we say the warrant card, and afterwards he must have handcuffed her,” said Mr Little.
The Old Bailey heard that a couple driving past the scene saw Couzens in the process of handcuffing Ms Everard, before leading her towards the hire vehicle.
“The immediate impression the passenger formed was that she was witnessing an undercover police officer arresting a woman, whom she assumed ‘must have done something wrong’,” said Mr Little
“They were witnessing the kidnapping of Sarah Everard.
“She was detained by fraud. The defendant using his warrant card and handcuffs as well as his other police issue equipment to effect a false arrest.
“Having handcuffed her to the rear she would not have been able to undo the seatbelt that the defendant must have placed over her.
“That was the start of her lengthy ordeal including an 80 mile journey whilst detained which was to lead first to her rape and then her murder.
“At some point fairly soon after driving from the pavement onto the South Circular and having not gone to a police station for example, Sarah Everard must have realised her fate.”
Sarah left a friend’s home in the Clapham Junction area on March 3 at around 9pm for a walk of two and a half miles to her flat in nearby Brixton.
She was reported missing at 8.10pm on March 4 after she failed to meet her boyfriend as arranged.
CCTV caught Couzens with Ms Everard next to his white Vauxhall Astra hire car, which was later tracked driving to Tilmanstone in Kent.
When police officers checked with Enterprise Car Hire, they were horrified to find the man who had booked it out was Couzens, a serving police officer.
Ms Everard’s body was found 100 metres away from a piece of land owned by Couzens and his wife.
“The defendant’s plot of land is very close to, and in the same woods, that he was to burn Sarah Everard’s body after he had murdered her,” Mr Little said.
“He then moved her body in green bags that he had purchased specifically for that task to a pond deeper into the woods but which was only about 130 metres from his plot.”
Members of the public had noticed Couzens wearing his police belt when not on duty, with a pair of handcuffs and black pepper spray holder, the court heard.
“This is the type of equipment that it can be inferred that the defendant was wearing when he kidnapped Sarah Everard,” said Mr Little.
Ms Everard’s parents, Jeremy, a professor of electronics at the University of York, and her mother, Susan, had left the family home to join Sarah’s siblings in the search for her.
They were among members of Sarah’s family in court today.
Initially, the police officer claimed he had been forced to abduct Sarah by a gang of Eastern Europeans.
Couzens, of Freemen’s Way, Deal, admitted kidnap, rape and murder.
The sentencing hearing continues.