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Sarah Everard was falsely arrested by police officer who murdered her, prosecutor says

London — The British police officer who killed Sarah Everard handcuffed her "by fraud," prosecutor Tom Little argued before a U.K. court on Wednesday. Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping and murdering the 33-year-old marketing executive, and is due to be sentenced on Thursday.

"His movements were consistent with the defendant looking for, or hunting, for a lone young female to kidnap and rape, which is precisely what he did," Little said.

The prosecution argued that Couzens, who was off duty at the time he detained Everard, was likely wearing his police belt, and that he showed her his police warrant card in order to detain her. The prosecution argued Everard was vulnerable to his plot because she had gone to dinner at a friend's house despite lockdown rules in place at the time, which were often enforced by police.

After detaining her, Couzens forced Everard into a rental car. Couzens owned his own vehicle, so there was "no credible alternative explanation for his need to hire a car other than to use that car to kidnap and rape a lone woman," Little argued.

"He was to burn Sarah Everard's body after he murdered her," Little told the court. "He then moved her body in green bags that he had purchased specifically for that task."

Everard went missing while walking home from a friend's house on March 3, and her body was discovered a week later in woodlands outside of London. Her disappearance triggered widespread protests against gender-based violence and, after police roughly shut down a vigil in her honor, heavy-handed policing.

Officer pleads guilty to rape, kidnapping of Sarah Everard, whose death sparked U.K. protests 01:33

48-year-old Wayne Couzens joined London's Metropolitan Police in 2018. He had worked a night shift protecting the U.S. embassy on the day he killed Everard.

Little told the court on Wednesday that Couzens had also been going on patrols to enforce coronavirus lockdown regulations at the time of Everard's murder. He said that a passenger in a passing car had witnessed Couzens kidnapping Everard, but had assumed he was an undercover agent making a lawful arrest.

London's Metropolitan Police said ahead of Wednesday's hearing that it was "sickened, angered and devastated by this man's crimes, which betray everything we stand for."

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