UK police officer pleads guilty to woman's rape and kidnap

by Reuters
Tuesday, 8 June 2021 09:43 GMT

An image of Sarah Everard via the Metropolitan Police

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Everard's murder provoked outpourings of anger from women who have recounted their own experiences and fears of walking the streets on their own at night

LONDON, June 8 (Reuters) - A police officer has admitted the rape and kidnap of Sarah Everard whose killing sparked anger and soul-searching across Britain about what police, government and society can do to stop male violence against women, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Wayne Couzens, 48, a London officer who guarded diplomatic premises, also accepted responsibility for killing Everard but did not enter a plea while medical reports were being prepared, the BBC said.

Everard, 33, was abducted as she walked home from a friend's house in south London on March 3. Her body was later found in woodland around 50 miles away in southeast England.

A post-mortem concluded earlier this month that she had died as a result of compression of the neck.

Couzens had been due to enter a plea next month but at a hearing at London's Old Bailey Court he pleaded guilty to both the rape and kidnap charges, media said.

Everard's murder provoked outpourings of anger from women who have recounted their own experiences and fears of walking the streets on their own at night.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised action including money for better street lighting and pilot schemes for plain clothes officers to visit pubs and clubs to "identify predatory and suspicious offenders".

The police also came under fire for their handling of a vigil for Everard when officers were criticised for dragging mourners away. An independent watchdog later cleared the London force of wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by William James and William Schomberg)