There's another Wayne Couzens in the Met right now, says woman held at Sarah Everard vigil

Patsy Stevenson  (PA)
Patsy Stevenson (PA)

A woman arrested at the Clapham Common vigil for murdered Sarah Everard said the Metropolitan Police hasn’t changed and “there’s other Wayne Couzens in the Met right now”.

Activist Patsy Stevenson spoke out after an independent inquiry found that Couzens should never have been given a job as a police officer and that opportunities to stop the sexual predator were repeatedly ignored and missed.

An image of Ms Stevenson being pinned down by officers and dragged away from the south London vigil was seen around the world following Ms Everard’s murder in March 2021.

Ms Stevenson said she felt “exhausted” by the pace of police reform since off-duty Pc Couzens abducted, raped and killed 33-year-old marketing executive Ms Everard.

Wayne Couzens was a serving police officer when he murdered Sarah Everard (handout/PA) (PA Media)
Wayne Couzens was a serving police officer when he murdered Sarah Everard (handout/PA) (PA Media)

Ms Stevenson told Sky News: “There’s other Wayne Couzens in the Met right now.” She added: “Three years ago, we had this sort of promise of we’re going to vet them correctly, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that. And it’s still not happened in that time.

“We’ve had David Carrick [a serial rapist who worked in the same unit as Couzens], we’ve had Cliff Mitchell [an officer convicted of multiple counts of rape and kidnap].

“We’ve had so many others. You know, you type in ‘Met Police rapists’ on Google, there’s just so many of them, which is ridiculous and abhorrent.”

Lady Elish Angiolini’s scathing report said Couzens’ alleged sexual offending dating back nearly 20 years “could and should” have stopped him being recruited by three forces, including the Met.

Ms Stevenson, from Egham, Surrey, was paid substantial damages by the Met but said the experience scarred her for life. She added: “I personally believe that women shouldn’t trust the police. I wish we could. We hear the rhetoric of, you know, well, ‘Who else are you going to go to?’ Nobody.

“There isn’t anyone right now. And that’s a scary thought. There is nobody that women and girls trust when things go bad.”

Mina Smallman, the mother of two murdered sisters whose bodies were photographed by police officers guarding the scene in Wembley, who then shared the images, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that she texted Ms Everard’s parents, Sue and Jeremy, on Thursday “to give them strength”.

She added: “The next couple of weeks will be hell. We’re being told Couzens could have been stopped 10 years previously but they still put him through [vetting].”

How the Standard covered Thursday’s damning report (Evening Standard)
How the Standard covered Thursday’s damning report (Evening Standard)

Mrs Smallman said she was worried Lady Elish’s report will be “shelved” by “arrogant” Met chiefs.

“There has to be a will to change,” she added. “I don’t think they have the kind of fire in their belly to do it. Those at the top, those who can make changes. It’s time to open the door and let other professionals in to advise and insist upon change.”

Home Secretary James Cleverly said Miss Everard was “failed in more ways than one by the people who were meant to keep her safe”, but stressed the actions of Couzens were “not a reflection on the majority of dedicated police officers”. Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley described the inquiry findings as “an urgent call to action for all of us”.

Couzens, now 51, is serving a whole life sentence.