Sarah Everard: Met Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, 'may have used to warrant card to entice 33-year-old into car'

POLICE were last night investigating whether a top gun cop used his warrant card to entice Sarah Everard into a car out of the view of cameras.

PC Wayne Couzens, 48, was being held on suspicion of her abduction and murder.

🔵 Follow our live blog for the latest developments on the case of missing Sarah Everard

The dramatic development came as Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said human remains had been found in woods — but did not confirm that they belonged to marketing executive Sarah, 33.

Dame Cressida said: “We are not able to confirm any identity. That may take some considerable time.

“The news it was a Met Police officer arrested on suspicion of Sarah’s murder has sent shockwaves and anger through the public and The Met.

"I speak on behalf of all our colleagues when I say we are utterly appalled.”
Sarah’s family were earlier said to be “absolutely distraught” over the officer’s arrest but holding out hope for her safe recovery.

Cops moved in on married dad-of-two PC Couzens after a car linked to him was allegedly spotted on a motorist’s dashcam near to where Sarah was last seen on the night of Wednesday March 3.

Police do not believe PC Couzens had ever met Sarah previously.

The marksman, whose role can involve guarding politicians and protecting events attended by senior royals, is believed to have worked a shift in South London that day.

His Ukraine-born wife Elena, 38, who works as a laboratory manager, has also been arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

A source said last night: “The working hypothesis is that he saw Sarah on the street for the first time and kidnapped her.

“At this stage it is thought the officer used his warrant card to entice Sarah towards his car.

“One theory is that he may have used the Covid lockdown as a pretext to engage with her and then snatched her.”

PC Couzens is attached to the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection (PaDP) unit normally based at the Palace of Westminster.

Detectives probing Sarah’s suspected murder searched his locker yesterday.

She had vanished in Clapham, South West London, while walking home alone from a friend’s house.

The movements of the car, believed to have been hired, were said to have been tracked by ANPR cameras from the scene.

It is understood PC Couzens worked a 2pm to 8pm relief shift at the American Embassy in Nine Elms, South London.

It is around three miles from where Sarah, who was wearing a green rain jacket and navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern, was last seen on a doorbell camera at 9.30pm.

At the time she was walking alone on Poynders Road, part of the South Circular, after a 15-minute phone call with her boyfriend Josh Lowth.

Moments later PC Couzens is suspected of bundling Sarah into his car out of view of cameras.

Cops had cordoned off flats on Poynders Road at 4pm on Tuesday and searched the immediate vicinity.

It is close to the spot where she was last seen and where her last mobile phone signal was traced.

At 8pm on Tuesday detectives arrested PC Couzens at his home in Deal, Kent, and led him out in handcuffs an hour later.

He was initially held on suspicion of kidnap. Yesterday he was further arrested for Sarah’s murder and an unconnected offence of indecent exposure.

The couple’s modern terraced house and garden were searched. The family cars, a nine-year-old black SEAT Exeo and Peugeot 107, were taken away for forensic examination.

Police also seized phones to analyse cell site data and pin down PC Couzens’ movements.

Early yesterday a helicopter and police search adviser (PolSA) teams scoured woodland near Betteshanger Park, Deal, for up to four hours.

Clues to find Sarah

Officers are also asking people in the following areas to check doorbell or dashcam footage for any sightings of Sarah:

  • The A205 South Circular around Clapham Common
  • Cavendish Road
  • New Park Road
  • Brixton Hill
  • Brixton Water Lane

The map shows a possible route Sarah would have followed

Officers with specialist dogs also descended on woods and derelict buildings 30 miles away at a former golf course and paintballing centre at Great Chart, near Ashford, Kent.

The site was blocked off by a police van, with around six more near the building.

One local told The Sun: “I saw police with flashlights searching in my outhouse, our garden and the fields next to it at around 1am.

“There were dozens of them and there was a helicopter flying above for ages. It was shocking.

The Met said yesterday: “A man arrested in connection with the disappearance of Sarah Everard remains in custody at a London police station.

“The man, who is aged in his 40s, was arrested on the evening of Tuesday March 9 on suspicion of kidnap.

“Today he has been further arrested on suspicion of murder and a separate allegation of indecent exposure.”

The Met added: “The man is a serving Metropolitan Police officer in the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.

“His primary role was uniformed patrol duties of diplomatic premises. A woman, who is aged in her 30s, was also arrested on the evening of March 9 on suspicion of assisting an offender. She remains in custody.

“Officers are searching locations in London and Kent including a property in Deal and an area of woodland near Ashford.”

The Met has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct over the case.

Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave yesterday stressed the suspect was off duty at the time of Sarah’s abduction.

He described the officer’s arrest as a “serious and significant development”.

Mr Ephgrave said: “We will continue to work with all speed on this investigation. But the fact that the arrested man is a serving Metropolitan Police officer is both shocking and deeply disturbing.

“I understand there will be significant public concern but it is essential that the investigative team are given the time and space to continue their work.”

The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards is involved and checking PC Couzens’ duty rosters and work records.

He joined the Met in 2018 after transferring from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), where he was an authorised firearms officer.

He joined Britain’s nuclear force in 2011 after working at a family business in Dover for around 12 years.

He was initially based at the CNC’s Dungeness site in Kent and also worked on escorts and counter-terror duties elsewhere.

He joined the Met during a recruitment drive for armed police following the 2017 terror attacks.

Couzens was specially vetted and had rigorous physical and mental assessments before being accepted to his high-profile role.

A former colleague said: “His arrest over Sarah is truly shocking.”

Durham University graduate Sarah comes from a close-knit family.

Dad Jeremy, 67, a professor of electronics at York University and charity worker mum Sue, 64, are being kept updated.

The couple have a son James, who lives in London, and another daughter Katie, who lives and works in New York.

Sarah’s uncle Nick last night said the family were absolutely distraught over the arrest.

Nick, from Coventry, added: “We know they arrested an armed officer but we don’t know him. It’s really shocked us all.”

On the night she vanished, Sarah had visited a friend in Leithwaite Road, Clapham.

She left by a back gate at 9pm for the 50-minute walk back to her flat in Brixton. Sarah, also seen wearing a white beanie hat and Covid mask, walked across Clapham Common before coming onto the A205 South Circular Road.

Murder detectives took over the case on Sunday.

But until yesterday, the Met continued to stress they were dealing with a missing person’s inquiry and had no evidence Sarah had come to any harm.

Police are continuing to trawl through CCTV in the Clapham area and have appealed for anyone else with any vehicle dashcam footage to come forward.

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