THIS is the serving Met Police officer who has been arrested over the disappearance of Sarah Everard, The Sun can today reveal.
Dad-of-two Wayne Couzens, 48, is in custody after the 33-year-old went missing last week as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south west London.
🔵 Follow our live blog for the latest developments on the case of missing Sarah Everard
Sarah, a marketing manager, should have made it back to her Brixton home by about 10pm on Wednesday night – but hasn’t been seen since.
And in a “shocking and deeply disturbing” update to the case, Scotland Yard last night revealed a police officer had been arrested over Sarah’s disappearance.
The Sun can today reveal Wayne Couzens, an armed diplomatic protection officer based in Westminster, was arrested at his Kent home last night.
His work saw him provide protection at major public events attended by senior members of the Royal Family.
PC Couzens is thought to have been a late entrant to the police, joining around 10 years ago after previously working at a family garage repairs business in Dover.
One ex-colleague of PC Couzens said: “It is truly shocking that he has been arrested over Sarah’s disappearance.”
Detectives investigating Sarah’s disappearance are also today carrying out a search of his locker at the police base in the Palace of Westminster where he worked.
Neighbour David Ladd, 48, said he saw Couzens bundled into a police car under arrest with handcuffs on last night.
He told The Sun: “He was escorted into the back of a police car.”
Cops are now standing guard at a Kent home with a forensic tent set up outside, with a car seized from the home.
A woman – believed to be the cop’s partner – was also been arrested at the same location on suspicion of assisting an offender. She remains in custody.
Corrine Couzens, Wayne’s step-mother, told The Sun she couldn’t comment but added: “I’m aware of what’s happening.”
Speaking this morning, Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said “we really hope” Sarah is still alive as the hunt continued.
He confirmed the officer who had been arrested had not been on duty with the 33-year-old disappeared – but refused to confirm what charge the cop had been arrested on suspicion of.
AC Ephgrave said last night: “The arrest this evening is a serious and significant development.
“We will continue to work with all speed on this investigation but the fact that the arrested man is a serving Metropolitan Police officer is both shocking and deeply disturbing.
“I understand there will be significant public concern but it is essential that the investigative team are given the time and space to continue their work.”
The Directorate of Professional Standards is aware and Sarah’s family has been kept updated of these developments, police said.
Sarah’s family today told of their hope after the arrest, with cousin Tom Everard saying: “We’re hopeful this development will bring new information; but the police still need help to find Sarah and get her home safely.”
Last night, Met Police and specialist teams began searching secluded wooded areas in Kent, along with a disused paintball centre and a golf driving range.
Specialist teams were seen combing through the area while police dogs were also brought in as part of the hunt.
And as cops searched the officer’s Kent home, neighbours spoke of their shock.
A neighbour in the road said a police officer lives at the address with his “chatty” wife and two children.
She said: “They just seemed like a normal, regular family, there was nothing strange about them at all.”
Pamela Cane, 77, who lives opposite, described the household as “the perfect family”.
She said Wayne lived there with his wife, two young children and a Pug dog.
She said her late partner Rod would discuss policing with Wayne – who she described as “very friendly” and part of a “perfect family”.
She said: “The whole situation is horrifying.
“I can’t believe this. The arrest is more shocking because he’s a police officer.
“Wayne would also fix bikes in his garage. He was known for helping people with them.”
Sarah was last seen on Wednesday night – seen on a doorbell camera on the Poynders Road section of the South Circular – about halfway between her friend’s house and her own flat.
Detectives searching for the missing marketing executive earlier cordoned off a main road to search a housing complex close to where Sarah’s phone last pinged.
Officers carried out fingertip searches, while divers and sniffer dogs checked ponds and drains in the area.
And police have appealed for motorists who may have driving near her route home to send in their dash-cam footage.
Police yesterday released new pictures of missing Sarah hoping that it might encourage anyone with information to come forward.
One shows Sarah wearing the same coat as on the night she went missing.
Her distraught family fear “bad people approached her” as her “very worried” boyfriend issued a desperate plea.
Sarah’s parents left their York home at the weekend and drove to London to help the search for their daughter.
Her uncle Nick Everard also revealed the family are “absolutely distraught” and said the pain is “getting worse as the days go on”.
He told the Evening Standard: “I don’t know London well but I fear there could have been some bad people about who approached her.
“The family are searching with Sarah’s friends who have been absolutely amazing.”
He had earlier pleaded with any potential abductor to “just to be human and to let her come home”.
Nick added: “If someone is holding her against her will I would plead with them just to be human and to let her come home, to let her talk to us, give us a ring or text to let us know she is OK.”
Sarah’s boyfriend Josh Lowth, who spoke to Sarah on the phone for around 15 minutes before she vanished, has appealed for information on Facebook.
He wrote: “Sarah is still missing. Please share this post to help us to find her. Today, more than ever, we miss our strong, beautiful friend.”
A relative also revealed today Josh is “very worried” as the search enters its seventh day.
He told MailOnline: “Josh and Sarah have been very happy together and she’s a lovely girl.
“The whole family is obviously very worried about her and just wants her home safely.
“We’re all pulling together and praying that this awful situation is quickly resolved. We want to thank the media for all their help.”
His dad Chris added: “We are concerned, like everybody is. We really, really want to see her back.”
It comes after CCTV footage from a local estate agent showed no one matching Sarah’s description between 9.30pm and 10.30pm on the route police believe she would have taken home.
The camera has a clear view of both sides of the busy road on Brixton Hill, which is close to the flat where the marketing manager lives alone.
The Met have confirmed they remain “open-minded” over Sarah’s disappearance.
Murder cops have taken over the investigation but are still treating the case as a missing person inquiry.
DCI Katherine Goodwin said: “This is definitely a missing person investigation at the moment but I remain open-minded as to all possibilities in the investigation.”
She said 750 people have now been spoken to by officers as they desperately try to find the missing marketing manager.
Police have also trawled through hours of CCTV around Sarah’s movements on the night she vanished.
DCI Goodwin said specialist officers had been drafted in from across the Metropolitan Police to help with the investigation and she thanked members of the public who had come forward with information.
She said she had met Sarah’s family, adding: “My heart goes out to them in this most difficult time and they are doing everything that they can in order to help find her along with her friends”.
It is understood detectives investigating her disappearance have been told of assaults on women in the area, reports The Times.
In January, Metropolitan Police received a report of sexual harassment on a young female on Hydethorpe Road, just half a mile from where Sarah was last caught on CCTV.
At the start of February, a woman was witnessed being chased by a man just over a mile away.
Then, just three weeks ago, a 14-year-old girl was followed by a man in a van less than half a mile from where Sarah was last seen.
Meanwhile, other women said they reported groups of men following a woman in neighbouring district Balham.
But Scotland Yard has said it is so far not linking Sarah’s disappearance to any other incidents.
It comes after alarmed women living in the area revealed police urged them to be vigilant after the mysterious disappearance.
One said cops knocked on her door last night and warned her “not to go out alone” as they desperately try to piece together what happened.
Another woman, aged in her 30s, told The Sun Online: “I was told to be more careful because I live on my own.
“The police came round yesterday and said to be careful.
“I don’t want to leave the house at the moment. You don’t know what happened.
“It makes me very worried. I just can’t believe it.”
Clues to find Sarah
Officers are also asking people in the following areas to check doorbell or dashcam footage for any sightings of Sarah:
- The A205 South Circular around Clapham Common
- Cavendish Road
- New Park Road
- Brixton Hill
- Brixton Water Lane
The map shows a possible route Sarah would have followed
On Wednesday night, Sarah left a friend’s house in Leathwaite Road in Clapham about 9pm.
She headed through a back gate onto the A205 South Circular before she is believed to have walked across Clapham Common.
She had spoken to her partner on the phone for about 15 minutes, and has not been heard from since that point, according to her friend Rose Woollard.
Sarah moved to the capital for work around 12 years ago and has a brother, James, and sister, Katie, who also live in London.
In a statement released over the weekend, her family said: “With every day that goes by we are getting more worried about Sarah.
“She is always in regular contact with us and with her friends and it is totally out of character for her to disappear like this.
“We long to see her and want nothing more than for her to be found safe and well.
“We are so grateful to the police and all our friends for all they are doing.
“We are desperate for news and if anyone knows anything about what has happened to her, we would urge you to please come forward and speak to the police.
“No piece of information is too insignificant.”
Sarah’s sister, Katie, added on Facebook: “No words. Please share and contact me if you hear anything.”
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Police officer arrested over disappearance of Sarah Everard, 33, in London
Sarah was last seen wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern and turquoise and orange trainers.
She was also thought to have been wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat.
Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting CAD 3309/06MAR.
Information can also be provided anonymously by calling the Missing People charity on 116 000.