Daily Mail

We could have saved Sarah but Met police ignored us

Agony of the McDonald’s worker flashed by Couzens as he gets 19 more months

- By Rebecca Camber Crime and Security Editor

A WOMAN flashed by wayne Couzens before he killed Sarah Everard sobbed yesterday as she told a court: ‘we could have saved her.’

She was one of three women targeted by the predatory officer who was given 19 months yesterday for the exposure offences on top of his life sentence for murder.

The judge criticised police for failing to link Couzens to the attacks which came in the run-up to his abduction of 33year-old ms Everard. He was supposed to be on duty when, naked, he leapt out at a female cyclist on a country lane in Kent in november 2020.

The 50-year-old firearms officer then went on to expose himself to two terrified female attendants at a McDonald’s drive-through in Kent on February 14 and 27, 2021. The last attack was just four days before he snatched ms Everard, 33, from a street in south London.

Police were given his descriptio­n, car

‘It was a selfish, aggressive act’

registrati­on and bank card details yet officers failed to investigat­e, interview the victims or identify the sex offender as one of their own officers until he had been arrested for murder.

The old Bailey was told the three women had been left with ‘ survivors’ guilt’ after both Kent Police and the met failed to take the crimes seriously, missing crucial chances to stop Couzens.

One of the McDonald’s workers wept as she told how she recognised his face in newspaper articles following his arrest. ‘I could not believe that I had met someone who would go on to be a killer,’ she said.

‘It made me realise that police officers are ordinary people, some of whom could be a threat instead of trying to protect me.

‘This indecent exposure incident was reported on the Sunday. I had no one contact me or ask for a statement. It was only after Sarah’s murder that I became involved. If he had been held accountabl­e when we had reported the crime, we could have saved Sarah.’

The woman cyclist reported her attack within minutes but police were unable to trace Couzens because she could not recall his full number plate.

She told him in a victim impact statement: ‘You took my freedom and replaced it with fear.

‘It was a selfish, aggressive act and it has had a serious impact upon the quality of my life, and upon the quality of life of those close to me. I am aware that, for some, indecent exposure is viewed as a minor offence but research shows this is a progressiv­e form of behaviour. ‘I remember vividly being concerned that somebody who could expose themselves to a stranger in such an intimidati­ng way could go on to commit much more serious acts. This is what happened. Four months after you exposed yourself to me, you raped and murdered an innocent woman. ‘There were opportunit­ies to identify you and they were not taken. I did not feel that, when I reported your crime, it was taken as seriously as I felt that it should have been. The horror of what happened will remain with me for the rest of my life.’ Passing sentence, mrs Justice may said: ‘He could have easily been traced by his car and his card. nothing was done by police at the time.

‘The fact that no police came to find him or his black car, to question him about these incidents, can only have served to confirm and strengthen in the defendant’s mind a dangerous belief in his invincibil­ity, in his power to dominate and sexually abuse women without being stopped.’

Two police officers are facing

‘The horror will remain with me’

misconduct proceeding­s for their handling of the allegation­s.

Deputy Assistant Commission­er Stuart Cundy, who leads the met’s Directorat­e of Profession­al Standards, said: ‘I have read the victim impact statements and it is clear to me the hurt and trauma that he inflicted on them.

‘It is their courage that has been crucial in bringing him to justice and I am sorry for what they have gone through. Like so many, I wish he had been arrested for these offences before he went on to kidnap, rape and murder Sarah Everard and I am sorry that he wasn’t.

‘The fact he did this while serving as a police officer has brought shame on all us who swore to protect the communitie­s we serve.’

Couzens showed no emotion during the hearing as he appeared on videolink from HMP Frankland.

Following his murder conviction, the former protection officer was charged with six counts of indecent exposure. In February he pleaded guilty to three of the charges after failing in his bid to get the case thrown out citing adverse publicity around miss Everard’s murder. He denied three other indecent exposure allegation­s dating back to June 2015.

An independen­t inquiry led by Dame Elish Angiolini is under way to consider Couzens’ earlier sexual offending and whether opportunit­ies were missed to stop him before the murder.

 ?? ??
 ?? ?? Predator: Wayne Couzens admitted indecent exposure
Predator: Wayne Couzens admitted indecent exposure
 ?? ?? Victim: Sarah Everard
Victim: Sarah Everard

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