London — A police officer has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and raping, a 33-year-old marketing executive who went missing while walking home from a friend’s house in London earlier this year.
Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared in court on Tuesday by video-link to plead guilty to kidnapping and rape charges. He is also accused of murdering Everard, but has not yet entered a plea for that charge.
Everard’s disappearance in early March triggered widespread protests against gender-based violence and heavy-handed policing. Her body was discovered in woodlands outside of the city a week after she went missing.
After Everard’s body was found, hundreds of people, mainly women, gathered at an unsanctioned vigil at a park near where she was last seen. Police eventually moved into the peaceful crowd forcefully, arresting four people, including two teenagers. Permission to hold the vigil was initially denied by police because of coronavirus restrictions.
across London and the United Kingdom, with demonstrators coming out against a proposed bill that would give police more power to limit public protests, but not do anything to address gender-based violence.
“We don’t just want overpolicing and more police officers who abuse their powers towards women. We want actual action,” a 25-year-old protester named Jennifer told CBS News in March. “We want money spent on women’s services. We want there to be a cultural change that protects women and fights against misogyny and violence.”
“At the heart of this is Sarah, and Sarah just wanted to walk home, and she wasn’t able to do that by a patriarchal society, by male violence, and we have to change that,” Zarah Sultana, a member of the British Parliament, told a crowd of protesters outside the legislature in March.
The Guardian newspaper reported that while he didn’t enter a formal plea on the murder charge, Couzens did accept responsibility for killing Everard in court on Tuesday, but that psychiatric reports were still pending.
The next plea hearing was scheduled for July 9.