London Metropolitan Police Officer Wayne Couzens has pled guilty to the kidnapping and rape of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive whose disappearance sparked protest, violent backlash from law enforcement, and a national discussion on women’s safety.
The Guardian reports that, on Tuesday, Couzen appeared in court via video and “formally pleaded guilty” to Everard’s kidnapping and rape. He also admitted responsibility for her killing, but he has yet to enter a plea on that front.
Everard disappeared in South London on March 3 while walking home from a friend’s house. Couzens, 48, was arrested on suspicion of Everard’s disappearance on March 9. Everard’s remains were discovered in a wooded area in Kent, England the next day, and Couzens are charged with kidnapping and murder two days later.
Then came the reckoning. As the Guardian noted:
The kidnapping and death of Everard initiated a national debate about the safety of women in the UK, and whether the criminal justice system was doing enough to protect them and punish those who threaten them.
Vigils held around the country passed off largely without incident. One near to the route of Everard’s last known journey, on Clapham Common, south London, saw the Met criticised for alleged heavy-handed tactics, but a report by the policing inspectorate not only cleared police of wrongdoing but praised them for their restraint.
“Heavy-handed tactics” is one way to describe the grim scene that unfolded on Clapham Common: Women being shoved to the ground by police officers and handcuffed, all for safely gathering and mourning the death of one of their own, a woman who could have been them, walking home alone at night, minding her own business, only to be kidnapped, raped, and murdered.
Everard was far from an outlier; between 2012 and 2018 alone, there were 594 sexual misconduct complaints against Metropolitan Police employees. Incidents include an officer allegedly raping a woman at a domestic violence shelter and another officer accused of rape after he went to the home of a woman he met while on duty that day. And yet, despite the fact that a police officer is alleged to be responsible for sexual violence against Everard and countless other women, Everard’s death ironically inspired Prime Minister Boris Johnson to increase the number of undercover cops at bars and clubs to protect women from harassment.
The call is coming from inside the house, lads.