“The body has now been recovered and formal identification procedure has now been undertaken. I can now confirm that it is the body of Sarah Everard.”
“I know that the public feel deeply hurt and angry and I speak on behalf of all my colleagues when I say that we too are horrified,” he said.
“I understand that women in London and the wider public, particularly those in the area where Sarah went missing, will be worried and may well be feeling frightened.
“Londoners are likely to continue to see extra officers on the streets in the coming days. Please know our officers are committed to keeping you and your loved ones safe. Our dedication to serve the people of London is undiminished.”
The confirmation came as detectives trawled through the background of Wayne Couzens, the 48-year-old officer arrested in the case, including his activities during previous careers, to see if the arrested firearms officer might have committed other offences.
The inquiry is also aiming to uncover a possible explanation for what might have triggered the alleged kidnapping and murder of 33-year-old Ms Everard.
Couzens, 48, is also a suspect in a case of indecent exposure at a McDonald’s in south London on February 28, three days before Ms Everard went missing as she walked home from Clapham to Brixton.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct has begun an inquiry into the handling of that incident by two officers amid fears that they might have missed an opportunity to arrest him. It is understood that the officers had carried out a number plate check on a vehicle after the offence was reported online and obtained the name of its owner. But they had yet to carry out an interview.
Timeline of Sarah Everard’s disappearance
Couzens was not identified as a suspect in the flashing incident until homicide detectives started investigating his background after making him the key suspect in Ms Everard’s disappearance.
The police watchdog will now assess whether the inquiry into the indecent exposure could have been progressed more quickly, although sources point out that given the demands on police time of dealing with other serious offences, it might well have been reasonable for the officers to have moved at the speed they did.
“It’s definitely not that police did nothing about the indecent exposure or that they turned a blind eye to a crime by a colleague. But the question will be whether the case was progressed quickly enough,” a person with knowledge of the case said.
The latest developments came as:
Police watchdog probes Met Police over indecent exposure allegation made against Sarah Everard suspect
– Aides said Home Secretary Priti Patel was considering a new law to protect women better from harassment on the streets.
Questioning of Couzens was expected to continue on Friday. Police will have to decide before Saturday evening if he is to be kept in custody because of the legal limit on the time suspects can be held without charge.
Meanwhile, detectives investigating Ms Everard’s murder were today combing a network of military tunnels in the White Cliffs of Dover, which are said to run under Couzens’ former family garage.
Ms Everard disappeared on Wednesday March 3 and was last seen on doorbell camera footage as she walked along Poynders Road at around 9.30pm on her way to her home in Brixton.
A woman in her thirties who was arrested at the same address in Deal as Couzens on suspicion of assisting an offender has been released on bail.