opinion

The moment Wayne Couzens 'arrested' Sarah Everard, women’s safety changed forever.

It took less than five minutes to kidnap Sarah Everard from a relatively well lit street in a busy London suburb in March.

She was approached by a police officer. He had a warrant card proving he was one. He told her she'd broken COVID-19 lockdown rules before handcuffing her and putting her in his car, a court heard. 

To a witness in a passing vehicle, it just looked like an arrest from an undercover officer. They assumed the 33-year-old must've done something wrong. 

Why would Sarah resist? 

This man did not appear to be a 'monster', a creeper or a stranger who had been throwing prickly pickup lines her way. He was an officer of the law, someone she'd been taught to trust. 

That officer was Wayne Couzens, who is about to be sentenced for her rape and murder in London's Central Criminal Court. 

He was a police officer, but he was not 'arresting' her on March 3 in any legal capacity. And the car he bundled her into was a hire vehicle, one that the prosecution told the court was rented for the sole purpose of kidnapping a lone woman. 

Watch: Former DCI Simon Harding, says Wayne Couzens “should never have been near a uniform”. Post continues after video.


Video via Sky News.

Long before we knew the horrific details of this case, and Sarah's final moments, her story had captured global headlines. 

She had been walking home from a friend's house in Clapham just after 9pm. She never made it home to nearby Brixton and a nationwide search began. 

In court we learnt Sarah was handcuffed at 9:34pm. Four minutes later she was being driven to Dover where Couzens transferred her to his own car. He then drove to a remote rural area where he raped her. Then murdered her. 

These details, this story, it changes everything for women. 

She was not forced or pushed or snatched like we originally assumed. She would have been terrified, but because she thought she'd done something wrong and was about to see the inside of a jail cell. Not because she thought she was about to lose her life.

As women we are always on alert for men. Especially at night while walking alone.

By all accounts Sarah was intelligent, savvy and streetwise. She wouldn't have just gotten into a car with someone she didn't know, the court heard.

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Sarah Everard, 33, was murdered in March by Wayne Couzens, who plead guilty to all charges against him. Image: Facebook.

But would she have complied with a police officer who told her she was under arrest? I would have. 

She did. 

But not even those in uniform are safe, is what we've learnt from Sarah's incomprehensible death. 

Yes, he was a bad apple. They're in every industry. But we've also heard that the 48-year-old was "creepy" towards colleagues long before Sarah's murder. So much so he was nicknamed "the rapist," reports The Sun.

There was also a string of allegations against him, including reports he flashed two women at a McDonald's drive-through just three days before he kidnapped Sarah.

Despite CCTV and vehicle registration details being handed over to police, the alleged sex crime was not investigated, reported Metro.

This man wasn't an ex-cop when he committed this crime. He was a serving police officer, in fact he'd just come off a 12-hour shift at the US embassy on the day he took Sarah's life.

He'd also worked on COVID-19 patrols, enforcing coronavirus regulations. So he knew exactly what to say. He knew how to get her into that car without her second guessing his behaviour. 

It's not all men. 

But for women, this case proves that we have to assume it is. And that's terrifying. Because not many of us would have included police officers in that assumption. We would have hoped those in uniform were exempt - that they were safe. They took an oath to protect, after all.

Sarah's murder changes everything. Now when we walk home alone, we truly do have to assume all men. 

Because it could be any man. Just look at former Met Police Officer, Wayne Couzens. 

For more from Gemma Bath, keep up to date with her articles here, or follow her on Instagram, @gembath. 

Feature image: Met Police/CCTV. 

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