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A twisted cop arrested Sarah Everard under the guise of being on "Covid patrol" before he raped and murdered her, a London court has heard.
Wayne Couzens, 48, kidnapped and killed the 33-year-old marketing executive, who went missing while walking home from a friend’s flat in Clapham on March 3.
He used his knowledge of policing to kidnap, rape and strangle Sarah, who was later discovered dead in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, reports The Mirror.
Couzens brought handcuffs from Amazon less than a month before he brutally murdered Sarah and kept them in his car so he could carry out horrific crimes, the Old Bailey heard.
Prosecutor Tom Little told the court that Couzens handcuffed and "arrested" Sarah after he used his warrant card to prove that he was a police officer.
The court heard that Couzens's own Seat car was in a bad condition and he had hired a vehicle from Dover to use in the abduction.
Mr Little told the court that Sarah had planned to have dinner with a friend in the Clapham Junction area of south London that night and "would have walked all the way back had she not have been kidnapped."
At the time, it is understood Couzens was in debt of around £29,000 and was involved in a dispute with the Metropolitan Police over his pay scale.
Two members of the public had reported seeing Wayne Couzens wearing his police belt with handcuffs while he was off-duty and he had told them he was an "undercover officer."
He also had a profile on Match.com, where he gave false details about himself. The court heard he was in contact with an escort through an escort service.
Couzens pleaded guilty to Ms Everard's murder, kidnap and rape and appeared at the Old Bailey on Wednesday for the start of his sentencing.
He sat in the dock with his head bowed as prosecutor Tom Little QC opened the case, watched by Ms Everard's family.
Ms Everard was described by a former long-term boyfriend as "extremely intelligent, savvy and streetwise" and "not a gullible person", the court heard.
He said he could not envisage her getting into a car with someone she did not know "unless by force or manipulation", said the prosecutor.
Mr Little added: "The fact she had been to a friend's house for dinner at the height of the early 2021 lockdown made her more vulnerable to and more likely to submit to an accusation that she had acted in breach of the Covid regulations in some way."
Couzens worked on Covid patrols in late January this year, enforcing coronavirus regulations, so would have known what language to use to those who may have breached them.
He was said to be wearing his police belt with handcuffs and a rectangular black pouch, similar to a pepper spray holder, when he kidnapped Ms Everard.
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The court heard how the officer planned in advance by booking a hire car for between 5pm on March 3 to 9.30am the next day.
Mr Little said there was "no credible alternative explanation for his need to hire a car other than to use that car to kidnap and rape a lone woman".
"His movements were consistent with the defendant looking for, or hunting, for a lone young female to kidnap and rape, which is precisely what he did," the prosecutor said.
CCTV footage showed Couzens raising his left arm holding a warrant card before handcuffing Ms Everard and putting her into the hire car.
Ahead of the start of the two-day sentencing, Scotland Yard released a statement which read: "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.
"We recognise his actions raise many questions and concerns but we will not be commenting further until the hearing is complete."
Lord Justice Fulford will consider whether to hand down a whole life term before he sentences Couzens on Thursday.
- MET Police
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