News

Why DID police take so long to unmask Wayne Couzens? As new Sarah Everard documentary shows detectives’ shock – the missed chances to spot Met had future killer in its ranks


Questions remain as to why it took the Met Police so long to unmask Wayne Couzens – as a former detective spoke today of his shock at finding out he was a colleague minutes before he knocked on his door. 

Nick Harvey, a former detective superintendent at Scotland Yard, said ‘the pit of my stomach just fell out’ when he found out who the chief suspect in Sarah Everard‘s disappearance was as he parked up near his home in Kent. 

He told BBC Woman’s Hour this morning his team was tasked to research Couzens so they could locate him.

But as he ‘literally turned off his engine’ to his car in Deal he received a bombshell phonecall from Detective Chief Inspector Katherine Goodwin who told him Couzens was a serving Met police officer. 

DCI Goodwin, who led the investigation, reveals the shocking moment in a new BBC documentary about Sarah’s murder, which contains interviews with senior police figures and prosecutors involved in the case.

Wayne Couzens was giving a rare whole-life sentence for the kidnap, rape, and murder of Sarah Everard

Wayne Couzens was giving a rare whole-life sentence for the kidnap, rape, and murder of Sarah Everard

Sarah, 33, a marketing executive was killed in 2021 with a new BBC documentary airing this week

Sarah, 33, a marketing executive was killed in 2021 with a new BBC documentary airing this week

Yet there will be much bafflement as to how the force was unable to identify he was ‘one of their own’ sooner, with there only being one person named Wayne Couzens on the electoral roll. 

While CCTV showed the sex offender flashing his penis inside a McDonald’s in Clapham just hours before he kidnapped and murdered the marketing executive on March 3, 2021. 

Mr Harvey, who left the force after serving for 17 years, told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour host Emma Barnett about receiving the news that was a ‘huge moment in history’.   

‘[I found out Couzens was a police officer] A couple of minutes before we knocked on the door,’ he said. 

‘Initially I had tasked my team with a series of research to make sure we could actually locate him. DCI Goodwin was conducting her own research separately. 

‘I arrived in Deal to brief my team around what we were doing and how we were going to go about it and as I pulled up as no sooner as I had turned up and literally turned off the engine of my car did DCI Goodwin ring me and break the news to me.’

He said he felt ‘awful’ and ‘the pit of my stomach just sort of fell out’, as the gravity of the situation began to dawn on him.   

‘It was immediately and abundantly clear how much this was going to change policing and what a huge moment in history it was going to be,’ Mr Harvey added. 

Former Met Police detective of 17 years, Nick Harvey (pictured), said he only found out Couzens was a colleague 'minutes before we knocked on his door'

Former Met Police detective of 17 years, Nick Harvey (pictured), said he only found out Couzens was a colleague ‘minutes before we knocked on his door’

Senior investigating officer Katherine Goodwin discovered who Couzens when he was spotted with Sarah on CCTV footage next to a car

Senior investigating officer Katherine Goodwin discovered who Couzens when he was spotted with Sarah on CCTV footage next to a car

‘It’s something that sadly… murder is too common in our society but you could see the difference of what it was going to mean for the UK.’

Couzens ‘went grey’ when Mr Harvey identified himself and at that point the ex-cop knew he ‘was directly involved’ in Sarah’s disappearance. 

He then had to keep his emotions in check as he conducted an ‘urgent interview’ to try and persuade the killer to reveal where the 33-year-old was. 

Mr Harvey said it had been ‘really challenging’ to process what had happened three years ago and since he left the force.

‘I’ve got a lot of pride in what I’ve achieved and the work that I’ve done I’ve always tried to do the very best I could do and to know that’s actively undermined by a section of policing is awful,’ he said. 

‘It’s a fraction unfortunately of what Sarah’s family have ever had to go through as a result of it. It pales into insignificance really.’

It comes ahead of the BBC airing its documentary Sarah Everard: The Search For Justice on Tuesday evening on BBC One, days after the third anniversary of her death.

In the documentary, Miss Goodwin revealed the police discovered Couzens was suspected of an indecent exposure offence days earlier in Kent, before they found out he was a serving Metropolitan Police officer.

Miss Goodwin said they discovered this after Sarah and Couzens were spotted on CCTV footage next to a car, which led to his identification.

The documentary Sarah Everard: The Search for Justice will be shown on BBC One on Tuesday, March 5

The documentary Sarah Everard: The Search for Justice will be shown on BBC One on Tuesday, March 5

Sarah was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens

Sarah was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens

DCI Goodwin (pictured) revealed the shocking moment she realised Couzens worked for the police in a new documentary

DCI Goodwin (pictured) revealed the shocking moment she realised Couzens worked for the police in a new documentary

She said: ‘At that time, Wayne Couzens was a name that meant nothing to any of us. So immediately we start researching the name, also the phone number and the address that had been given when he’d hired the car.

The detective added that when it was discovered he was suspected of indecent exposure, it ‘suddenly changed everything, because whilst I might have hoped that Sarah had got into the car with someone she knew, suddenly it was clear to me that she’d got into the car of an alleged sex offender’.

The officer sent a team to Couzens’ house in Kent to question him and, while officers were en route, a detective ran into Miss Goodwin’s office, shut the door, and told her ‘you need to hear this’.

A researcher on the phone then revealed that Couzens was a serving Met officer.

Miss Goodwin said: ‘I knew that I had to tell my boss and I can just remember the shock of having to just sit on the floor of the office and say to her, ‘You’re not going to believe this, that he’s a police officer’.

‘And then the same questions went through her head as went through my head, “Are you sure?”.

Officers arrived at Couzens’ home at 5.45pm, but did not knock on his door until two hours later. During this time Couzens had wiped his mobile phone of all of its data.

MailOnline has contacted Met Police for comment.  

Couzens (pictured) was given a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey after pleading guilty to kidnap, rape and murder

Couzens (pictured) was given a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey after pleading guilty to kidnap, rape and murder

A recently published damning report found there were repeated missed opportunities to stop Couzens that left him able to stay in the police despite being a serial sex offender with a reputation for disturbing sexual behaviour that led to a nickname of ‘the Rapist’.

The Met police has always maintained it found no evidence of him being given the ‘repugnant nickname’ while he worked for another force.  

An inquiry found Couzens’ history of alleged sexual offending dated back nearly 20 years before he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah in Clapham, south London.

The married father of two was reported to police eight times for indecent exposure between 2008 and 2021 but was able to continue in the police due to ‘lethargic and inadequate’ investigations, a report found. 

Inquiry chair Lady Elish Angiolini identified at least five incidents which were not reported to police and warned there could be more victims.

It emerged for the first time that Couzens, now 51, allegedly carried out a ‘very serious sexual assault of a child barely into her teens’ while he was in his twenties.

Couzens was accused of attempting to kidnap a woman at knifepoint in North London in 1995 while aged 23. He was also accused of raping two women and indecently touching a man in a bar while wearing a blonde wig.

Lady Elish found the married father of two ‘could and should’ have been stopped from getting a job as an officer, and that without a radical overhaul of British policing, there is ‘nothing to stop another Couzens operating in plain sight’.

The inquiry team found that there were instances where he showed extreme violent pornography to friends and police colleagues, in a move to test their boundaries, and sent unsolicited images of his genitals to women.

Both Kent and the Metropolitan Police were criticised for inadequate investigations into claims of indecent exposure against Couzens.

There was a series of incidents where he was accused of flashing – three of which he was sentenced for last year, despite already having received a whole life jail term for Sarah Everard’s murder.

These were masturbating in front of a lone female cyclist in a Kent country lane in 2020, and twice exposing his genitals to staff at a fast food restaurant in February 2021 in the days before Sarah’s murder.

He drove his own car and used his own credit card at the outlet but no action was taken at the time, with investigating officer Pc Samantha Lee later sacked for failing to investigate properly.

Another two similar incidents at the fast food restaurant were ordered to lie on file, and there were two incidents in 2008 and 2021 that were reported to the Met and Kent respectively at the time when Couzens allegedly exposed himself, but there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

In 2015, a member of the public reported having seen a man driving around in Kent with his genitalia exposed, giving the make, model, colour and registration number of the car.

Couzens was identified as the keeper of the car but Kent Police closed the investigation with no further action and without even speaking to him.

Lady Elish Angiolini said: ‘This was a grave error and a very obvious red flag.’



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button