Sarah Everard: Inquiry will ask if 'red flags' were missed allowing her killer to strike

An inquiry investigating how a serving Metropolitan Police officer was able to abduct, rape and murder Sarah Everard will look at whether any “red flags were missed” earlier in his career.

Monday, 10th January 2022, 1:20 pm
Updated Monday, 10th January 2022, 1:26 pm

Home Secretary Priti Patel has published the terms of reference for the first phase of the Angiolini Inquiry, named after Dame Elish Angiolini QC who is leading it, which will consider the “systemic failures” that allowed Ms Everard’s killer to be employed as a police officer.

Wayne Couzens is now serving a whole-life order in prison, meaning he will never be released.

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Couzens was handed a whole life order at the Old Bailey for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

The first part of the inquiryis intended to conclude this year to make sure the “family get the answers they need”, the Home Office said.

It will seek to establish:

– A timeline of Couzens’ career and “relevant incidents” including “prior allegations of criminal behaviour and/or misconduct”.

– The circumstances and decision making surrounding his vetting and re-vetting, including whether “any potential risks and/or red flags were missed” as well as any matters arising from his transfer between forces.

A family handout photo of Sarah Everard issued by the Crown Prosecution Service.

– His overall conduct, performance, training and any abuse of his police powers.

– The extent to which any issues about his behaviour, particularly in relation to women, were “known and raised by colleagues” including professional standards departments and senior leaders.

The inquiry will analyse documents from the Metropolitan Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Kent Police as well as consider interviews, witness statements and findings from Independent Office for Police Conduct investigations.

The findings from the first part of the inquiry will inform the second – which will look at “broader issues” arising for policing and the protection of women.

Ms Patel said: “I am determined to understand the failings that enabled a serving officer to commit such heinous crimes – we owe an explanation to Sarah’s family and loved ones, and we need to do all in our power to prevent something like this from ever happening again.

“I have assured Dame Elish she has my full support to ensure this inquiry gets the answers the public and the Everard family need as soon as possible.”

Dame Elish, a former Lord Advocate of Scotland, described the publication of the terms of reference as a “significant step forward to progressing this vital inquiry and ensuring Sarah’s family and the wider public get a full understanding and explanation of the causes of, and factors contributing to, this tragic and harrowing murder.”

Although a non-statutory inquiry has been established, this can be converted to a statutory inquiry, where witnesses can be compelled to give evidence, if required.

Couzens, 48, was handed a whole life order for the “grotesque” killing of the 33-year-old marketing executive which shocked and outraged the nation.

A court had heard Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issue warrant card and handcuffs to snatch Ms Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London, on the evening of March 3.

Ms Everard, who lived in Brixton, south London, had been strangled with Couzens’ police issue belt by 2.30am the following morning.

Married Couzens then burned her body in a refrigerator in an area of woodland before dumping the remains in a nearby pond.

Rape Crisis Scotland helpline: 08088 01 03 02

Scottish Women’s Aid helpline: 0800 027 1234

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