Yesterday, they watched via video link as Coroner Patricia Harding formally opened the inquest into Sarah’s death. Two post-mortem examinations have been carried out but the cause of her death has yet to be established. Further tests are now taking place. Ms Harding told the brief hearing at County Hall in Maidstone, Kent: “The body has now been released to the family so that a funeral can take place.” Sarah, 33, vanished as she was walking home on Clapham Common, south London, on the night of March 3.
Her remains were found in a builder’s bag in woodland near Ashford, Kent, seven days later. PC Wayne Couzens, of Scotland Yard’s armed diplomatic protection squad, has been charged with her kidnap and murder.
Couzens, 48, of Deal, Kent, is due to go on trial at the Old Bailey in October.
Ms Harding adjourned the inquest “until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings”.
She added: “It only leaves me to say to the family members who are watching these proceedings how very sorry I am for your loss.”
The 10-minute hearing was attended remotely by Sarah’s father Jeremy, her mother Sue, sister Katie and brother James.
Det Insp Lee Tullett, of the Metropolitan Police, gave evidence via a video link of Sarah’s last movements.
He confirmed she went missing after having dinner at the home of a university friend in Clapham.
She left around 9pm to walk to her flat in Brixton, about two miles away, and chatted to her boyfriend Josh Lowth for 15 minutes until about 9.27pm. There was no further activity on the device, Mr Tullett told the coroner.
Mr Lowth, 33, became concerned when marketing executive Sarah failed to turn up for a work meeting the following morning.
Police were alerted and a missing person inquiry was started later that day.
Officers are continuing to search for evidence at locations in Kent including Ashford, Deal, Dover and Sandwich.