Socialist Worker

Sarah Everard’s killer pleads guilty—questions remain

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2763

On the Reclaim the Streets vigil at Clapham Common, south London

On the Reclaim the Streets vigil at Clapham Common, south London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The cop who killed Sarah Everard pleaded guilty to her murder last week.

But the plea leaves unanswered questions about how PC Wayne Couzens—known to have committed sex offences previously—was allowed to remain an armed police officer.

Couzens already pleaded guilty to kidnapping and raping Everard before also admitting her murder. It means he could die in jail if given a full life sentence next month.

Senior police at the very top of the Met will hope to use his sentencing to draw a line under the scandal.

Anger

The case sparked an explosion of anger and protests over institutional sexism in the police and violence against women.

Met police commissioner Cressida Dick said she felt “sickened, angered and devastated” by Couzens. She added that “everyone in policing feels betrayed.”

Yet no one has explained why Couzens—reportedly nicknamed “the rapist” by other cops, and previously accused of indecent exposure—remained in the force.

Newspaper reports say Couzens was given the nickname while an armed officer with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary in 2011 because he made women feel uncomfortable.

The police may also have had enough information to identify Couzens as the perpetrator of an indecent exposure in 2015.

Kent police received a report in June 2015 that a man had been seen driving naked from the waist down. It is thought there may have been enough information in the Kent police system to identify the man as Couzens at the time.

Yet police only made the link and referred the allegations to their pet watchdog the IOPC in May 2021, two months after Couzens murdered Everard.

And Couzens passed a vetting procedure when he joined the Metropolitan police force in 2018. He became an armed officer in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection group.

He is also accused of two incidents of indecent exposure at a McDonald’s in south London three days before killing Everard. He was still a serving officer on the day he killed Everard.

That day he finished work at 7am then collected a rental car he had hired three days earlier.

He drove around south London in the car before spotting Everard walking home after visiting a friend’s home at about 9.30pm.

Twelve other police officers are also under investigation over matters relating to Everard and Couzens.

Misconduct

They are all accused of either misconduct or gross misconduct.

One Met police officer allegedly shared an inappropriate image relating to the killing with other officers over social media, before working at the scene of the search for Everard.

The questions mean Couzens’ sentencing next month can’t be seen as the end of the pressure on the Met—or of the rage at institutional sexism in the police and in society.


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