A police constable in the UK, Wayne Couzens, who was charged on Friday evening with kidnapping and killing the 33-year-old Sarah Everard, reportedly "flashed at McDonald's staff twice" just days before the marketing manager disappeared. Couzens, 48, allegedly indecently exposed himself twice at the fast food restaurant in South London on February 28.
The police watchdog is now investigating whether officers responded "appropriately" to the report linked to Couzens, exposing him indecently three days before Everard disappeared. Everard was last seen on March 3, walking alone down a main road in Clapham at 9.30 pm, with police saying it was unclear whether she reached her home in Brixton.
Couzens should have been arrested earlier and that could have prevented Everard's disappearance and eventual murder, according to new reports. According to a report in The Sun, it is being claimed that police failed to act and arrest Couzens over the accusations of indecent exposure at a McDonald's take away in South London on February 28.
It meant he was still working as a gun cop for three days and free to allegedly snatch 33-year-old Everard on March 3. Although police started an investigation into the two separate indecent exposure incidents at a fast food restaurant, they failed to arrest Couzens on that day.
The vehicle registration used allegedly by Couzens was noted by witnesses, while CCTV of the incident was handed over to police. However, police hasn't yet directly said that the man in the footage who flashed indecently was Couzens but eyewitness have confirmed it was him. "On February 28 the Met created a crime report in relation to two separate indecent exposure incidents at a fast food restaurant in South London. It would be inappropriate to comment further given the IOPC investigation," a police spokesperson told the outlet.
Innocent Life Lost
Workers at McDonald's reported the incident of indecent exposure to police on the very night. However, no action was taken in connection over the alleged incident. Had he been arrested, Couzens would automatically have had his "blue ticket" firearm license revoked and suspended from duty. That could have saved Everard's life.
The Met Police is now being accused of taking the incident lightly and an investigation into the reason behind delay in investigating the McDonald's incident has been launched. "Our investigation will look at the actions of the MPS after police received a report on February 28 (2021) that a man had exposed himself at a fast food restaurant in South London," a statement from IOPC read.
A body was found on Wednesday, with police confirming it was that of Everard's on Friday. The apparent police blunder over the alleged indecent exposure at the McDonald's emerged after Couzens was found unconscious in custody with a "serious" head injury and taken to hospital on Thursday. He was however treated and has since returned to custody.