33-year-old Sarah Everard was first reported missing on 4 March by her boyfriend, who was unable to contact her following her walk home from a friend's house the night before. The 9pm walk from Clapham, London back to Sarah's home in Brixton should have taken her around 50 minutes, but she never made it home.
Following a week of extensive searches, which involved hundreds of officers scouring CCTV, bus camera and video doorbell footage, Sarah's body was found in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent. A serving Metropolitan Police officer, 48-year-old Wayne Couzens from Deal in Kent, was later charged with murder and kidnap. He will appear at the Old Bailey on 9 July for a plea hearing, and his trial is due to start on 25 October. An inquest into Sarah Everard's death was opened back in March but was immediately adjourned until after the trial later this year.
Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave described Couzens' arrest and subsequent charge as "shocking and deeply disturbing," considering his position in the police force.
Following Sarah's death, a vigil was held on Clapham Common, which was part of her route home on the night she died. Mourners including Kate Middleton visited the site with flowers and candles to pay their respects to Sarah Everard and to stand in solidarity for women’s safety. However, the vigil was later broken up by police, causing uproar.
Several politicians condemned the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the event, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said the footage of police arresting mourners was “unacceptable” and that he was “urgently seeking an explanation” from Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick. The Commissioner said she "wouldn't have wanted to see a vigil in memory of Sarah end with those scenes," but also also highlighted the difficulty faced by officers and said that she welcomed a review.
Our thoughts remain with Sarah Everard's family during this very difficult time.
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