Sarah Everard murder: New details emerge as her body is released to family

An inquest into the death of Sarah Everard heard that her boyfriend was the first to report her missing as her body was released to her family for a funeral.

The hearing in Kent, southeast of London, was told that the 33-year-old’s boyfriend, Josh, was the first to raise the alarm after she missed a work meeting and failed to respond to his attempts to get in contact.

Acting Detective Inspector Lee Tullett said this was “very much out of character” and her partner had grown concerned.

The marketing executive vanished while walking home from Brixton to Clapham in south London on March 3 after attending a dinner at the home of a university friend. Her body was found in woodland near Ashford, Kent, on March 10.

Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with her kidnap and murder and is expected to go on trial in October.

Meanwhile, Couzens’ wife has been seen in public for the first time since her husband was arrested – without her wedding ring.

The Daily Mail reported that Ukrainian-born Elena Couzens was seen leaving their family home in Kent with bags of belongings.

Senior coroner Patricia Harding said an initial post-mortem examination to establish the cause of death was inconclusive and police were awaiting the final results of further examinations.

Harding said “the pathologist has not given a medical cause of death” but confirmed no natural disease was found and said tests would continue.

Everard’s body was found in a builder’s bag in Hoad’s Wood behind the disused Great Chart Golf and Leisure complex, and was identified from dental records.

“The body of Sarah has now been released to her family in order that a funeral can take place,” Harding added.

She told the family “how very sorry I am for your loss”.

Everard’s parents, brother and sister attended the hearing in Maidstone, Kent, via a remote video link.

The proceedings were adjourned until after October’s criminal proceedings, with a plea hearing due on July 9.

On Tuesday, married father-of-two Couzens appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Belmarsh prison, a large cut visible on his head. He spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address.

Prosecutor Tom Little said the circumstances of the case had led to a “very significant and wide-ranging investigation”.

A police probe began after Couzens’ arrest in Deal, Kent, and is continuing in Dover on England’s south coast.

The tragic case has triggered an outpouring of grief and anger among women who say more should be done to increase safety.

A vigil held on Clapham Common to honour Everard’s memory last Saturday was marred when police first banned the event and then clashed with attendees, manhandling women and pinning some to the ground in scenes that sparked outrage.

It was followed by protests in London’s Parliament Square and outside police headquarters on Sunday, with women calling for an end to violence and misogyny. The demonstrations reflected those in Australia, where more than 100,000 marched on Monday after a string of sexual assault and harassment allegations linked to Parliament.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins will lead an inquiry into workplace culture in Australia’s Parliament and the process of handling allegations of sexual harassment and assault. She also said an independent complaints body could be needed to support staff at Parliament House — a call backed by prominent figures including Lucy Turnbull and Therese Rein.

In the UK, London’s Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick faced calls to resign but refused to do so and was backed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, although he said he was “deeply concerned” by the footage.

The force has agreed to launch an internal probe into what many called its heavy-handed handling of last week’s vigil, while home secretary Priti Patel asked a police watchdog to “conduct a lessons learned review”.

Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer called the scenes in Clapham “deeply disturbing”, while London mayor Sadiq Khan said they were “completely unacceptable”.

Where to get help:

• If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

• If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk on: 0800 044 334 or text 4334.

• Alternatively contact your local police station.

• If you have been abused, remember it’s not your fault.

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