A London Metropolitan Police officer pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and rape of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who earlier this year went missing for a week before being found dead, in a case that drew widespread outrage.
PC Wayne Couzens appeared at the Central Criminal Court, also known as the Old Bailey, by video link from Belmarsh Prison, where he is currently being held, and admitted to kidnapping Everard “unlawfully and by force or fraud.”
Couzens also pleaded guilty to a second charge of rape and accepted responsibility for her death but did not enter a plea on the charge of murder. Medical reports explaining how Everard was murdered have yet to be released.
“A postmortem examination into the death of Sarah Everard held at the William Harvey hospital in Ashford has given cause of death as compression of the neck. Sarah’s family have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers,” the police said in a statement.
Everard, a marketing executive from London, went missing on March 3 after leaving her friend’s house in Clapham, south London. After an extensive weeklong search, police found her body in Kent, southeast England.
Couzens had been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping following Everard’s disappearance, but following the discovery of her body, he was also charged with murder and has been held in custody since his arrest on March 11.
Everard’s kidnapping, rape, and murder drew national outrage and saw demonstrations against the abuse of women in the UK. Police in London were criticized for violently breaking up and dispersing protestors who held a vigil for the slain woman.
“Sarah was bright and beautiful – a wonderful daughter and sister. She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable. She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour,” her family said in a statement.