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Sarah Everard murder investigation: Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens appears at Old Bailey

A serving police will enter pleas to charges of kidnapping and murdering Sarah Everard in July.

Armed diplomatic protection officer Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Belmarsh prison this morning.

Sarah Everard went missing in South London and police have confirmed a body has been found in Ashford
Sarah Everard went missing in South London and police have confirmed a body has been found in Ashford

He is accused of snatching the 33-year-old marketing executive as she walked home from a friend’s flat in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

Wearing a red sweatshirt and grey jogging bottoms, the defendant appeared to have a wound on his forehead.

He spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.

Members of Ms Everard’s family joined the hearing in court 10 of the Central Criminal Court by video link, according to court officials.

Prosecutor Tom Little QC said the circumstances of the case had led to a “very significant and wide-ranging investigation”.

He told the court the case had attracted an “almost unprecedented media and public attention”.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC set a provisional Old Bailey trial for October 25 with a plea hearing on July 9.

Couzens, who sat with his head bowed throughout the hearing, was remanded into custody.

Ms Everard was reported missing by her boyfriend on March 4.

Her body was found in a builders bag hidden in an area of woodland near Great Chart, Ashford, in the early hours of last Wednesday.

The court heard a post-mortem examination has taken place but no cause of death has yet been given, with the Met Police later confirming results were "inconclusive".

Wayne Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey via video link Picture: PA/Elizabeth Cook
Wayne Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey via video link Picture: PA/Elizabeth Cook

An inquest into her death will open on Thursday in Maidstone.

Couzens, who worked on the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command unit, had finished a shift earlier on the morning of March 3 and was not on duty at the time of Ms Everard’s disappearance.

The officer, from Deal, was charged with kidnap and murder on Friday and appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court the following day.

Ms Everard’s death has sparked vigils across the country in her memory and demands for action to tackle violence against women.

Images of women being manhandled by police officers at a vigil on Clapham Common on Saturday night has led to shock and widespread condemnation.

The investigation into Sarah's death continues and is being led by Specialist Crime Command detectives who are drawing on expertise and skills from hundreds of colleagues across the Met. They are also being supported by Kent Police.

Until yesterday Couzens' house in Deal remained sealed off by police. Today the two tents and metal hoardings surrounding the front garden have been removed. Teams of Met officers have been scouring large swathes of Sandwich since Sunday when they opened up a new search area along the Millwall, a pathed area beside a stream that is connected to the River Stour.

The body of the 33-year-old marketing executive was found in woodland near Great Chart in the early hours of Wednesday.

Speaking outside Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: "On Wednesday evening detectives investigating Sarah's disappearance discovered a body secreted in woodland in Ashford, Kent.

“I can now confirm this has been formally identified as Sarah. A post-mortem examination is now taking place.

Kristina Curtis reports from Great Chart

"Specialist officers are in constant contact with her family and have updated them on this terrible news.

“We continue to support them as best we possibly can in these truly dreadful circumstances."

Read more: All the latest news from Kent.

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