A Met police officer has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and raping Sarah Everard, who disappeared while walking home in south London in March.
PC Wayne Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey criminal court via video link on Tuesday. He pleaded guilty to kidnapping “unlawfully and by force or fraud” on 3 March and guilty to a charge of rape between 2 and 10 March.
Through defence counsel, Couzens admitted responsibility for the killing of Everard. No plea was entered for the murder of Everard between 2 and 10 March, as medical reports are awaited.
The next plea hearing is on 9 July. A provisional trial date is still set for October.
Couzens joined the Met in 2018 and worked for the elite Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.
Everard disappeared in Clapham on 3 March at around 9pm. Post-mortem examination results, revealed last week, showed that Everard died as a result of compression to the neck.
After her body was found in woodlands in Kent on 10 March, protests erupted across the country. Thousands of women and men took to the streets to protest against the police and institutional sexism.
Everard’s death and the subsequent actions of the police against the Clapham Common vigil show why the protests that exploded were right to see cops as the problem.
Protesters came out to demand women’s safety and an end to violence against women—in the face of politicians who argued that more police would be the answer.
The violence used on protesters at the Clapham Common vigil also made clear the police's role.
Women who protested were hit, pushed and arrested by police who tried to close the vigil down after a court said it would be against Covid-19 restrictions.
But those that defied the ruling and others who subsequently came out on the streets rattled the establishment.
The police are institutionally sexist—and they uphold a system that causes and benefits from women’s oppression. People’s anger should be aimed at the entire institution of the police and the system it protects.
Police violence at Clapham Common was deemed “justified” by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary despite outrage at what had happened.
Only mobilising from the bottom up can win fundamental changes for women, and justice for victims of sexism and violence.