Sarah Everard killing: UK police officer faces trial in October

Wayne Couzens of London’s Metropolitan Police Service is accused of kidnapping and killing the 33-year-old.

Everard's killing has sparked widespread anger and soul-searching about what police, government and society can do to stop male violence against women [File: Hannah McKay/Reuters]

A police officer will go on trial in the United Kingdom in October for the alleged kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard.

Everard’s killing has led to widespread anger across the nation and soul-searching about what the police, government and society can do to stop male violence against women.

The 33-year-old was abducted as she walked home from a friend’s house in south London on March 3. Her body was later found in woodland about 80km (50 miles) away, in the southeastern county of Kent.

Wayne Couzens, a serving officer in the capital’s Metropolitan Police Service whose role was to guard diplomatic premises, was later arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and killing her.

Couzens, 48, appeared by videolink from prison at London’s Old Bailey Central Criminal Court on Tuesday.

A provisional trial date was set for October 25 and he is due to enter a plea in July.

Wearing a red T-shirt, Couzens, who police said needed treatment for a head injury while in custody, had a noticeable cut on his forehead.

He made no application for bail and spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.

In the wake of Everard’s death, women across the country have recounted their experiences and fears and have called for action.

Police faced criticism over how they handled a vigil in London on Saturday, with images of the event showing some attendees being pinned down and dragged away by officers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired a meeting on Monday night to discuss what reassurances women could be given.

The government promised more funding for better street lighting and to pilot schemes where plainclothes officers would visit pubs and clubs to “identify predatory and suspicious offenders”.

“The horrific case of Sarah Everard has unleashed a wave of feeling about women not feeling safe at night,” Johnson said. “We must do everything we can to ensure our streets are safe.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies