Sarah Everard murderer Wayne Couzens swapped homophobic, sexist and racist messages with other cops
Sarah Everard’s murderer and rapist Wayne Couzens swapped homophobic, sexist and racist messages with other police officers in a private WhatsApp group in 2019, it has been revealed.
Couzens was handed a whole-life order in the Old Bailey Court, London, on Thursday (30 September) for the kidnap, rape and murder of Everard in March. He apprehended the 33-year-old marketing executive in a false arrest, claiming she had breached COVID-19 regulations.
During the course of the investigation into Everard’s death, it was discovered that Couzens had exchanged “discriminatory” messages with other police officers in a WhatsApp group in 2019.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announced on Thursday that it is conducting an investigation into five officers from three separate forces over the WhatsApp group.
The messages were misogynistic, racist and homophobic in nature, according to the Daily Mail.
Three of the officers under investigation are with the Metropolitan Police, one is with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) and one is with the Norfolk Constabulary, according to the IOPC. A former police officer who previously served with the Met is also under investigation for messages exchanged in the group.
All of the officers involved are being investigated for gross misconduct, the IOPC said. Members might also be reprimanded for failing to challenge the messages sent by others.
Two of the Met officers and the former police officer are facing a criminal investigation for the improper use of the public electronic communications network under Section 127 of the Communications Act.
The IOPC also provided updates on another investigation surrounding police conduct in relation to the murder of Sarah Everard.
The watchdog found that a shocking graphic which depicted violence against women – said to specifically reference Everard’s murder – was shared by an off-duty police officer with colleagues on WhatsApp.
The officer, who later staffed a cordon as part of the search for Everard, was investigated for gross misconduct. Two other constables were investigated for gross misconduct for sharing the graphic without challenging it.
That investigation has concluded, the IOPC said. A report has been sent to the Metropolitan Police and the watchdog will decide in the near future what further actions should be taken.
Sarah Everard had ‘her life ahead of her’
In a statement, IOPC regional director Sal Naseem described Everard as “a young woman with her life ahead of her”, adding that it was “shocking that it was ended in such truly awful circumstances”.
“Wayne Couzens’ betrayal of the public’s trust in him as a police officer can only have added to her family’s distress,” Naseem said.
“It is only right that the public are now protected from this dangerous individual.”
The news came just hours after Couzens was handed a whole-life order, the most severe punishment available in the UK’s criminal justice system, for the kidnap, rape and murder of Everard.
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There was widespread shock in March when Everard was first reported missing while walking home from a friend’s home in London. The following week, her burned body was discovered in a woodland in Kent.
Sentencing Wayne Couzens at the Old Bailey on Thursday, Lord Justice Fulford described Everard’s murder as “devastating” and “tragic”, adding that Couzens went out “hunting a lone female to kidnap and rape”.
“The misuse of a police officer’s role such as occurred in this case in order to kidnap, rape and murder a lone victim is of equal seriousness as a murder for the purpose of advancing a political, religious ideological cause,” he added, according to Sky News.
“Nothing can make things better, nothing can bring Sarah back, but knowing he will be imprisoned forever brings some relief.”
Labour MP Harriet Harman urged Met Police chief Cressida Dick to resign from her position in a letter on Thursday, saying women’s confidence in the force “will have been shattered” by the shocking murder.