A London Metropolitan Police officer pleaded guilty Friday to the murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, whose disappearance and subsequent murder in March sparked grief and outrage regarding violence against women.
Appearing by video link from the Belmarsh high-security prison, 48-year-old Wayne Couzens pleaded guilty to murder during a hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court. Couzens, who had confessed to abduction and rape earlier, had worked as a member of the Diplomatic Protection Command.
Everard, who worked as a marketing executive, disappeared on the evening of March 3, sometime during a 50-minute walk home from a friend’s house in south London. Her body was discovered a week later near Ashford in county Kent, about 90 kilometers southeast of London.
Following Couzens’ guilty plea Friday, Metropolitan Police Chief Cressida Dick told reporters the entire police department was sickened, angered and felt betrayed by the former officer’s crimes.
She said, “No words can adequately express the profound sadness, anger and regret that everyone in the Met, in my police service, feels about what happened to Sarah. Today, as every day, our thoughts are with Sarah, with her family, with her loved ones.”
Everard’s disappearance caused a nationwide outcry in Britain, with thousands expressing grief and anger regarding the safety of women in London and elsewhere. Women also then began sharing experiences of being threatened or attacked – or simply facing the everyday fear of violence when walking alone.
The incident prompted British opposition Labour Party lawmaker Jess Phillips to pay tribute to the 118 women in Britain who have died at the hands of men over the last 12 months by reading their names aloud in Britain’s House of Commons.