Wayne Couzens, a serving Metropolitan Police officer, has admitted murdering Sarah Everard.

The 48-year-old married father of two, from Kent, entered the guilty plea during a hearing at the Old Bailey on Friday morning.

He had previously admitted kidnapping and raping Miss Everard, but had been awaiting psychiatric reports before entering a plea in relation to her death.

Couzens appeared via videolink from Belmarsh Prison where he has been held on remand since he was charged with murder in March.

Wearing a grey prison issue sweatshirt and beige trousers he sat hunched with his head bowed staring at his feet.

In court members of Miss Everard’s family looked on.

Asked by the clerk of the court how he pleaded guilty to the charge of murder, Couzens, paused for a few seconds before replying: "Guilty."

Speaking of the probe into the murder of Miss Everard, Lord Justice Fulford said: "This has been a mammoth investigation which has produced some very significant results in terms of being able to understand what happened."

Jim Sturman QC, defending, said: "His pleas today represents a truly guilty plea and remorse for what he did and, as he put it to us this morning, he will bear the burden for the rest of his life – his words: ‘as I deserve’."

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens

Credit: Kent Messenger / SWNS

Miss Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was abducted from a street in south London on the evening of March 3 as she walked home after spending the evening with friends at their flat in Clapham.

Her remains, which were identified using dental records, were found in woodland near Ashford in Kent a week after she disappeared.

Couzens was arrested at his home in Deal after CCTV footage linked his hire car with her abduction.

He was charged with kidnap and murder on March 12 and has been held in custody ever since.

Couzens will be sentenced during a two day hearing to take place on September 29.

The initial blame on Romanian sex trafficking gang

It can now also be revealed that when Couzens was first arrested he initially blamed a gang of Romanian sex traffickers.

In an extraordinary web of lies he insisted he was an innocent pawn who had been forced to snatch Miss Everard after crossing some Eastern European criminals.

Couzens, who has been married for 15-years, told police he was a regular user of prostitutes at two hotels in Folkestone, but had been threatened by gangsters after he had underpaid one.

He then claimed he was approached by the gang who had told him to "deliver them another girl" in order to pay off his debt.

Couzens said the criminals had warned him they were watching his house and threatened to harm his wife and children if he failed to comply.

Extraordinarily he said he had agreed to kidnap a girl and snatched Miss Everard after driving past and spotting her on a south London street.

Messages and floral tributes left by well-wishers to honour murder victim Sarah Everard at the bandstand on Clapham Common in south London

Credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

According to his version of events, he then drove her out of London towards Kent and when he got between Ashford and Maidstone was flashed by a Mercedes van with a Romanian number plate.

Couzens said he pulled into a lay-by and three men got out of the van and took Miss Everard away.

He insisted to police that she had still been alive and uninjured when he delivered her to the men and he had then simply returned home and carried on as if nothing had happened.

But far from being the unwilling participant as he had claimed, chilling evidence was uncovered to suggest that Couzens had meticulously planned the abduction, rape and murder of Miss Everard.

Detectives had identified their Met colleague as a suspect on March 9 after CCTV cameras spotted what appeared to be the missing woman standing with another person next to a white Vauxhall Astra car on Poynders Road in south London.

After tracing the car to a hire firm in Dover they established that Couzens had booked the vehicle three days before Miss Everard disappeared.

Suspicious purchases made before the kidnapping

As well as hiring the car to snatch her, detectives discovered Couzens had also made a number of purchases on Amazon which pointed to a chilling degree of premeditation.

As a serving police officer he would have been only too aware of the importance of DNA evidence at crime scenes, so he purchased a roll of self adhesive film, advertised as carpet protector, presumably to line the inside of the hire car.

He also bought a large tarpaulin and a bungee cargo net, the intended use of which has never been fully established.

On March 5, two days after Miss Everard’s disappearance, Couzens was spotted on CCTV in a B&Q store in Dover buying two green rubble bags.

Miss Everard’s remains  were discovered in a large green builder’s bag dumped in a stream.

The body was located in an area of woodland outside Ashford in Kent, where in 2019 Couzens and his wife had purchased a small parcel of land.

It is thought the couple had dreamed of building their own home in the secluded and rural location.

The area was sealed off and at 4.45pm on March 10, specialist search officers made the gruesome and tragic discovery of human remains.

Couzens eventually abandoned the absurd explanation about the Eastern European gang when he appeared at the OId Bailey via videolink last month.

He finally admitted kidnapping raping and killing Miss Everard, although he tried to construct another defence by claiming he had been in the grip of mental illness at the time.

That excuse was rejected by psychologists who refused to support his plea of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.