Ex-Met Police officer says she has received hate messages over handling of Wayne Couzens flashing cases

A former Metropolitan Police officer says she has received hundreds of hate messages since being banned from policing over her handling of two incidents of flashing by Wayne Couzens.

Samantha Lee did not make "the correct investigative inquiries" into the offences, where Couzens exposed himself to female workers at a McDonalds restaurant in Kent in late February 2021, a disciplinary panel found.

The two incidents took place just days before he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard.

Her failure to properly investigate and the lying about her actions were found to be gross misconduct, resulting in her being banned from any police force in future.

Ms Lee, 29, said she felt like she was being "blamed completely" for Ms Everard's death, and that she had received messages from people saying she should have been the one kidnapped and murdered.

She told BBC Newsnight: "I think I'm seen as this horrendous, awful person that has let an absolutely heinous crime take place. And I'm being looked at as if I'm just as guilty as what Couzens is.

"But literally, there was nothing that I could have done that would have changed the outcome.

"I don't want any sympathy at all. All I want is people just to understand that there is nothing that I could have done.

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"It has been a case of 'let's go in at the bottom' rather than going up higher at the top.

"The only person that should be blamed for that awful, awful, horrendous crime should be Wayne Couzens."

The tribunal heard she had been sent to the McDonalds in Swanley on 3 March 2021, interviewing the manager Sam Taylor just hours before Couzens abducted Ms Everard from Clapham in southwest London.

Ms Lee said she believed the restaurant's CCTV was deleted automatically, so there would be no footage of Couzens of the offence, but Mr Taylor said he had shown her the footage and told her it could be saved on a USB stick.

He also said he had told her the registration plate on Couzens's vehicle could be seen in the CCTV footage of the second incident.

Ms Lee said after the ruling that she had been made a "scapegoat", adding: "I am a young female PC and I am the only person who has faced any disciplinary action in relation to this.

"There is only one person who is responsible for everything that happened and that is Wayne Couzens.

"I have never lied."

Couzens was sentenced in March this year to 19 months in prison over three counts of indecent exposure - the two at McDonalds and one where he exposed himself to a female cyclist in Kent in November 2020.

When he was sentenced he was already serving life behind bars for what he did to Ms Everard.