PC Wayne Couzens, a Scotland Yard marksman, appeared via videolink from HMP Belmarsh for his first appearance at the court since he was charged last week. Wearing a red sweat shirt and grey jogging bottoms, he sat with his head bowed as the judge set out the next stages of his case. A preliminary hearing will take place on July 9, while the trial in the autumn is expected to take around four weeks.
Couzens, 48, stared at the floor throughout the hearing as he sat on his own in the prison’s “Video court room number 3”.
At times he swayed to and fro, pulling down the sleeves of his sweat shirt and grasping the material in his hands. Asked to confirm his name and date of birth, he answered in a clear voice.
There was a livid red mark on the middle of his forehead and what appeared to be a scratch around his left temple.
Last week, it was reported that he was twice taken from his cell in Wandsworth Prison, south London, to St George’s Hospital, Tooting, for treatment for head injuries.
He was arrested at his home in Deal, Kent, on Tuesday last week on suspicion of abducting Sarah, 33, a marketing executive who lived in Brixton, south London.
She went missing on the night of Wednesday, March 3, while walking home after visiting a friend in Clapham, two miles from where she lived.
Couzens, a member of the armed diplomatic protection squad, was then arrested for her murder on Wednesday last week after Sarah’s remains were discovered in woodland near Ashford, Kent. Officers found her body in a large builder’s bag and she was identified through her dental records.
A post mortem has been carried out but the cause of death has not been revealed. The inquest is due to be opened at Maidstone, Kent, tomorrow morning.
Yesterday, some of Sarah’s family attended the hearing via a videolink. Tom Little, QC, prosecuting, said her disappearance and death had led to a “very significant and wide-ranging investigation.”
The case has attracted “almost unprecedented media and public attention”, he added.
Recorder of London Mark Lucraft, QC, set the dates for the hearing and trial. He also remanded Couzens in custody at HMP Belmarsh, a topsecurity prison in south London.
A former car mechanic and Army reservist, Couzens transferred to the Met Police from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary in September 2018.
He joined the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Command in February last year.
He was not on duty when Sarah went missing.