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Police officer pleads guilty to murdering Sarah Everard

A London police officer who kidnapped, raped and fatally strangled a woman earlier this year has pleaded guilty to the horrific crimes, the BBC reports.

The victim, 33-year-old Sarah Everard, went missing March 3 while she was walking home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London.

Days later, investigators arrested 48-year-old Wayne Couzens, a police constable, on suspicion of kidnapping Everard. Her body was found the following day inside a bag in a wooded area more than 50 miles from where she was walking.

Couzens on Friday pleaded guilty to murdering Everard; he had previously pleaded guilty in June to kidnapping and raping her.

Tom Little, the prosecutor in the case, told a court on Friday that Everard did not know Couzens and that they “were total strangers to each other,” according to the BBC.

“His pleas today represents a truly guilty plea and remorse for what he did and, as he put it to us this morning, he will bear the burden for the rest of his life – his words – ‘as I deserve,'” attorney Jim Sturman, who represents Couzens, told the court, according to the BBC.

It is still unclear what motivated Couzens to commit the heinous attack. Prosecutor Carolyn Oakley said during a press conference that he has yet to explain himself.

“Couzens lied to the police when he was arrested and to date he has refused to comment. We still do not know what drove him to commit this appalling crime against a stranger,” Oakley told reporters, according to CNN.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick, who attended the court hearing, said during the press conference that Couzens’ actions were horrific.

“All of us in the Met are sickened, angered and devastated by this man’s truly dreadful crimes. Everyone in policing feels betrayed.

“Sarah was a fantastic, talented young woman with her whole life ahead of her and that has been snatched away. She was hugely loved and she will be sorely missed by so many people,” Dick said, according to CNN.

Couzens is no longer receiving compensation as a police officer and misconduct procedures are ongoing, according to CNN, citing a statement from the Metropolitan Police.

“This was as soon as legally possible. Internal misconduct procedures are now being progressed,” the statement reads.

Everard’s killing spurred thousands of women on social media to share their experiences of intimidation, sexual harassment and assault while walking at night, according to The Guardian.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 29.

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