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  • Sarah Everard case

image caption, The body of Sarah Everard was found hidden in woodland

Sarah Everard was handcuffed by her murderer as he pretended to arrest her for breaching Covid guidelines.

Met Police officer Wayne Couzens abducted her as she walked home from a friend's house in Clapham on 3 March.

Couzens flashed his warrant card before restraining Ms Everard and putting her in his hire car and driving away.

His sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey was told that her ordeal could be summarised as "deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation, fire".

The 48-year-old had worked on Covid patrols in January, the court heard, and so would have known the appropriate formal terms regarding potential breaches.

The whole kidnapping took less than five minutes.

Ms Everard was handcuffed at 21:34 GMT and four minutes later she was being driven to Dover, where Couzens transferred her to his own car.

Couzens then drove to a remote rural area he knew well, where he raped Ms Everard. The sexual predator had clocked off from a 12-hour shift that morning.

'Not a gullible person'

Prosecutor Tom Little QC said Couzens must have taken Ms Everard's mobile phone from her and removed the Sim card, which he tried to destroy.

Ms Everard was described by a former long-term boyfriend as "extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise" and "not a gullible person", the court heard.

  • Sarah Everard: Daughter, sister, friend and colleague

He could not envisage her getting into a car with someone she did not know "unless by force or manipulation", said the prosecutor.

A week after she disappeared, Ms Everard's body was found in a woodland stream in Ashford, Kent, just metres from land owned by Couzens. Her body had been set alight after he killed her.

image source, Met Policeimage caption, Wayne Couzens admits murder, kidnap and rape

Mr Little said: "The defendant's plot of land is very close to, and in the same woods, where he was to burn Sarah Everard's body after he had murdered her.

"He then moved her body in green bags that he had purchased specifically for that task to a pond deeper into the woods, but which was only about 130 metres from his plot."

Couzens, who pleaded guilty in July to Ms Everard's murder, will be sentenced at the culmination of the two-day hearing. Lord Justice Fulford will consider whether to hand down a whole-life term.

Wayne Couzens shuffled into court his head bowed. Wearing a dark blue suit he confirmed his name.

Sarah's parents, and other family members, are in court listening to horrendous details about their daughter's kidnap, rape and murder.

In the public gallery many of her friends have also come to court to support them.

Three members of her family will read out statements this afternoon about how her murder has affected them.

The firearms-trained parliamentary and diplomatic protection officer wiped his phone just minutes before he was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, on 9 March.

The killing prompted national outrage and sparked protests about violence against women.

image source, PA Mediaimage caption, A tent was set up as police searched woodland near Great Chart, Kent

Earlier on Wednesday, the Met Police issued a statement that said: "We are sickened, angered and devastated by this man's crimes, which betray everything we stand for.

"Our thoughts are with Sarah's family and her many friends. It is not possible for us to imagine what they are going through."

Couzens was sacked by the force in July.