Wayne Couzens, 48, is charged with kidnapping and killing the 33-year-old woman who vanished in south London on March 3.
A police officer charged with murdering a young woman in London has made his first appearance in court amid an outpouring of grief from the British public.
Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning following his arrest on Tuesday.
Couzens is charged with kidnapping and killing Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive who disappeared while walking home from a friend’s home in London’s southern neighbourhood of Clapham on March 3.
Her body, which was found inside a builder’s bag in an area of woodland in Ashford Kent on Wednesday, was identified through the use of dental records, the court heard.
Everard’s death shocked the United Kingdom, prompting a debate over women’s safety with many women and girls sharing on social media their stories of experiencing violence by men.
There has also been a political fallout, with Member of Parliament Jess Phillips this week reading out the names of 118 women murdered last year. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the case.
In court, Couzens spoke only to confirm his name and personal details, sitting between two plainclothes officers in the dock. Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring remanded Couzens in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.
The Metropolitan Police has expressed anger and shock that one of its own was arrested for the crime. The force said Couzens joined its ranks in 2018 and most recently served in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command, an armed unit responsible for guarding London embassies and Parliament.
Organisers cancelled a march in honour of Everard planned for Saturday after police outlawed it due to coronavirus-related restrictions.
“In light of the lack of constructive engagement from the Metropolitan Police, we do not feel that we can in good faith allow tonight’s event to go ahead,” the organisers of Reclaim These Streets said on Twitter.
Update: We are sorry to confirm that our Clapham vigil scheduled for tonight is cancelled. Please see the full statement here.
— Reclaim These Streets (@ReclaimTS) March 13, 2021
Instead, the movement hopes to raise 320,000 pounds ($445,000) for women’s causes, equivalent to the 10,000-pound fine organisers were each threatened with, multiplied by the number of venues where events were due to take place.
On Friday, a High Court judge refused to intervene on behalf of the group in a legal challenge over the right to gather for a protest during coronavirus restrictions.