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image captionThe body of Sarah Everard was found hidden in woodland

Met Police officer Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to murdering the marketing executive Sarah Everard.

The firearms officer snatched her as she walked home from a friend's house in Clapham on 3 March, driving her away in a car he had hired.

The 33-year-old's body was found a week later in woodland near Ashford, Kent, metres from land owned by Couzens. She had been raped and strangled.

Couzens, 48, will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 29 September.

Judge Lord Justice Fulford told the court: "This has been a mammoth investigation which has produced some very significant results in terms of being able to understand what happened."

image copyrightKentOnlineimage captionCouzens had previously pleaded guilty to kidnap and rape and accepted responsibility for Ms Everard's death

Prosecutor Tom Little QC told the Old Bailey that Couzens and Ms Everard "were total strangers to each other".

It can now be reported that Couzens hired a car and bought a roll of self-adhesive film days before the murder.

At about 21:00 GMT on 3 March, Ms Everard chatted with her boyfriend on the phone as she walked home.

A camera attached to a passing marked police car captured her walking alone at 21:32.

image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionMs Everard disappeared while walking along a busy road

Three minutes later, a bus camera appeared to capture the moment she was intercepted by Couzens.

Two figures could be seen standing by the hire car, which was parked on the pavement with its hazard lights flashing.

After abducting Ms Everard, Couzens drove out of London, arriving in the area of Tilmanstone, near Deal, at 01:00.

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Investigators tracked the route of the car using CCTV cameras and identified the driver as a serving officer through the car hire firm.

Couzens had used his personal details and bank card to make the booking, picking up the Vauxhall Astra on the afternoon of the abduction and returning it the next morning.

In the days that followed, Couzens reported he was suffering from stress and no longer wanted to carry a firearm, according to a case summary.

image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionMs Everard's family were in court for Couzens' guilty plea

On 8 March, the day he was due on duty, he reported in sick.

The next day, police arrested Couzens at 19:50 – 39 minutes after he had wiped the data from his mobile phone.

In a police interview, Couzens concocted an elaborate story and claimed to be having financial problems.

He said he had got into trouble with a gang of Eastern Europeans who threatened him and his family. A gang demanded he deliver "another girl" after underpaying a prostitute a few weeks before, he said.

He claimed he kidnapped Ms Everard, drove out of London and handed her over to three Eastern European men in a van in a layby in Kent, still alive and uninjured.

image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionA marquee was set up as police searched woodland near Great Chart, Kent

Meanwhile, police found out that Couzens and his wife had bought a small patch of woodland in 2019 in Ashford.

Phone data led officers to the site and at 16:45 a body was found just outside the property boundary.

The remains, dumped in a stream inside a large green builders' bag, were identified as Ms Everard's through dental records.

Two days after Ms Everard was last seen, Couzens was caught on CCTV buying two green rubble bags at B&Q in Dover.

He went on to order a tarpaulin and a bungee cargo net for delivery on 7 March.

'Appalling crime'

On Friday, Couzens' defence barrister told the court his client's admission of murder "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'."

Speaking after the conviction, the Crown Prosecution Service's Carolyn Oakley said: "Wayne Couzens lied to the police when he was arrested and to date, he has refused to comment.

"We still do not know what drove him to commit this appalling crime against a stranger.

"Today is not the day for hearing the facts about what happened to Sarah. Today is a day to remember Sarah and our thoughts remain with her family and friends."