The serving Metropolitan Police officer accused of murdering Sarah Everard has been remanded in custody after his first court appearance.
Police constable Wayne Couzens (48) is charged with kidnapping and killing the 33-year-old marketing executive, who went missing while walking home from a friend's flat in south London on March 3rd.
Her body was found hidden in an area of woodland in Ashford, Kent, on Wednesday.
Couzens appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning for his first appearance following his arrest on Tuesday.
He spoke only to confirm his name and personal details, sitting between two plain clothes officers in the dock.
The court heard the officer is accused of kidnapping Ms Everard in the Poynders Road area of Clapham.
Ms Everard’s body, found inside a builder’s bag in Kent, was identified through the use of dental records, the court also heard.
Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring remanded Couzens in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on March 16th.
The Metropolitan Police previously said Couzens joined the force in 2018, most recently serving in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command, an armed unit responsible for guarding the parliamentary estate and embassies in London.
His main job was uniformed patrol of diplomatic buildings, and Scotland Yard said he was not on duty at the time of Ms Everard's disappearance.
The force said that Couzens, of Deal, in Kent, was taken to hospital for a second time in 48 hours on Friday for treatment to another head injury sustained in custody, before he was discharged and returned to a police station.
He was previously treated in hospital for a separate head wound on Thursday, also sustained in custody when he was alone in his cell.
‘Reclaim these streets’
A vigil for Ms Everard in south London has been cancelled and organisers said details of a “virtual gathering” will be announced instead.
Reclaim These Streets had been planning to host a demonstration on Clapham Common in south London on Saturday, near to where the 33-year-old went missing.
But organisers said that despite their attempts to work with police to ensure the vigil could go ahead safely, they now felt it could not go ahead.
Ms Everard was last seen on March 3rd walking alone down a main road in Clapham at around 9.30pm.
In a tweet on Saturday morning the group said: “We have been very disappointed that given the many opportunities to engage with organisers constructively, the Metropolitan Police have been unwilling to commit to anything.
“While we have had positive discussions with the Lambeth officers present, those from Scotland Yard would not engage with our suggestions to help ensure that a legal, Covid-secure vigil could take place.”
They added that “in light of the lack of constructive engagement from the Metropolitan Police, we do not feel that we can in good faith allow tonight’s event to go ahead”.
Reclaim These Streets said they would “strongly encourage people not to gather this evening on Clapham Common”.
They added: “We will be announcing the details of a virtual gathering later today and would encourage all those originally planning to join us on Clapham Common to take part.”
On Friday, a High Court judge refused to intervene on behalf of the group in a legal challenge over the right to gather for a protest during coronavirus restrictions.
People had vowed to attend the London event, despite the Metropolitan Police warning the public they should “stay at home or find a lawful and safer way to express your views”.