A police officer investigating Wayne Couzens missed opportunities to stop him before he murdered Sarah Everard, a hearing has heard.
Former PC Samantha Lee is the subject of a gross misconduct hearing, where it is alleged she failed to appropriately investigate incidents in February 20202 of indecent exposure by a man later identified as Couzens. These incidents were not investigated until March.
Evidence available to Ms Lee included the numberplate of a car registered to Couzens; credit card details also belonging to him; and a description of the suspect which matched Couzens. When Couzens was later sentenced for these crimes, the Judge remarked that the police could have “easily traced” Couzens from this evidence.
Ms Lee’s investigation has been criticised. She did not send local officers to the address of the car’s registered keeper, nor did she obtain copies of the CCTV evidence – a matter which it is alleged she afterwards lied about. An hour was allotted for the investigation, but Ms Lee spent only 20 minutes on the case. Paul Ozin KC, on behalf of the Metropolitan Police, argued that Ms Lee had made an “extraordinary decision” in judging the matter “low level”. Her investigation was a “rushed job” done “cursorily”.
These acts are alleged to amount to gross misconduct, and represented a missed opportunity to stop Couzens while Sarah Everard was still alive. Deputy Assistance Commissioner Stuart Cundy apologised for this failure, saying “I wish he had been arrested for these offences before he went on to kidnap, rape and murder Sarah Everard and I’m sorry he wasn’t.”