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WAYNE Couzens was a mechanic who dreamed of becoming a cop — but is now the prime suspect in one of Britain’s most shocking murder investigations.
The 48-year-old gun cop had signed an oath of allegiance to preserve life and protect property when he joined the police.
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Wayne Couzens, pictured with wife Elena, is the prime suspect in one of Britain’s most shocking murder investigations
The dad of two was thought to have wanted to move into hospitality
But he became an elite gun cop after leaving the family car business shared with (from left) dad Ray, stepmum Corinne and brother DavidCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
Now Couzens is suspected of taking missing 33-year-old Sarah Everard’s lifeCredit: Universal News & Sport
But he is now suspected of taking Sarah Everard’s life after kidnapping her from a street in South East London.
News of his arrest following the disappearance of 33-year-old Sarah has left relatives, friends and colleagues reeling with shock.
A neighbour in Deal, Kent, said: “He’s known as a police officer throughout the street.
“That gave you a feeling of being safe. You trust him.
“For him to be arrested for these alleged offences is nothing less than horrific.”
Dad-of-two Couzens commuted into London from his coastal home to guard some of Britain’s most high-profile buildings and people.
It was his dream come true after previously having worked at his family’s garage repair business.
He’s known as a police officer throughout the street. That gave you a feeling of being safe.
He joined the Civil Nuclear Constabulary before moving on to serve in the Metropolitan Police.
HE WAS BROUGHT OUT IN HANDCUFFS
Shaven-headed Couzens was highly regarded among colleagues for his calm approach — a key attribute for a gun cop.
Sarah went missing last week as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, South West LondonCredit: PA:Press Association
Last night one of his former colleagues said: “It is truly shocking that he has been arrested over Sarah’s disappearance.”
Couzens has been living with his wife Elena, their two young children, a daughter of ten and son aged eight, and their pug dog.
Police searching for marketing executive Sarah burst in through their front door on Tuesday night.
Neighbours told how 25 plain- clothes cops assembled outside his family’s modern terraced home at 8pm before swooping.
To the astonishment of neighbours, Couzens was brought out in handcuffs and scientist Elena, 38, was also arrested.
A neighbour said: “There were two officers at the door and more positioned to the side of the house.
“Wayne and his wife were brought out by police between 9pm and 10pm.
“He was in handcuffs and was put in the back of a van while his wife was put in a car.
“I saw a female officer pushing the back of her head down as she got into the vehicle.
“Police ransacked the house. I saw their children get brought out and taken away as well.
Couzens is suspected of luring Sarah into his carCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
PC Couzens was highly-regarded among his colleagues for his calm level-headednessCredit: Social Media
“At one point I heard one of the officers say ‘one count of kidnap and one count of assisting’. I didn’t manage to hear the last bit.”
David Ladd, 48, said: “I came back from a motorbike ride about 10pm. There were a load of plain- clothes police officers in the street.”
The couple, who married in 2006, were described as “chatty”.
Their children are featured on their social media and attended a local school.
Couzens could be seen larking around in a fez on holiday.
Friends said he enjoyed running and cycling. He also repaired motorbikes and spent a lot of time on his front drive.
Couzens had previously worked for more than 20 years at a garage run by his dad Ray in Dover.
BCB Dover at Western Heights closed in 2015 after 48 years. Couzens started as an apprentice in 1990 working as a light-vehicle body repair technician.
He worked there until 2011 before following in the footsteps of his brother David and becoming a cop.
He was based at Dungeness and received firearms training with the nuclear force.
Couzens guarded ministers and envoys
By Mike Sullivan
MURDER suspect Wayne Couzens is attached to an elite Met Police unit responsible for guarding Parliament and embassies.
He was posted to the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection (PaDP) branch after transferring in 2018 from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.
The PaDP is mainly composed of Authorised Firearms Officers who help protect the Palace of Westminster, government buildings and embassies.
On the day Sarah Everard vanished, Couzens is believed to have worked at the US Embassy in South West London. PaDP cops also guard senior ministers’ homes and patrol Downing Street and New Scotland Yard.
PC Keith Palmer, killed by terrorist Khalid Masood in the 2017 Westminster attack, was an unarmed cop attached to the PaDP.
It is part of the Met’s Protection Command, which has another branch guarding royals and a small number of VIPs.
However all firearms officers across the command help provide cover at major events attended by visiting heads of state.
It was understood Couzens did not settle well working in London. He was said to have had ambitions of working in hospitality closer to his Kent home.
Couzens transferred to the Met in September 2018 and worked as an armed diplomatic protection officer based in Westminster and guarding embassies and high-profile potential targets.
Responding to news of the arrest, the detained officer’s cousin Stefan Bryce, told The Sun: “It’s frightening that a member of our family is involved.”
Stefan, of Margate, Kent, added: “His parents are very proud of his career in the police. His brother is also in the force.”
Another cousin Vikki McGahan, of Deal, said: “The whole family is shell-shocked.”
PC Couzens’ stepmother Corrine told The Sun she knew her son had been arrested.
Speaking from her detached bungalow in Folkestone, Kent, she said: “I am aware of what’s happening. I can’t comment.”
Asked if her son knew Sarah, she replied: “I can’t say anything.”
Couzens’ wife grew up in Ukraine and obtained a first-class degree in biochemistry at the University of Donetsk.
Human remains were found in woods near Ashford, KentCredit: (c) UkNewsinPictures
Specialist teams hunted secluded wooded areas last nightCredit: (c) UkNewsinPictures
After working as a lab technician in Ukraine, she moved to Britain. She is employed as a lab manager for an engineering company.
Gardener John Chidwick, 67, who lives in a block of flats opposite, said Couzens is well spoken and “always appeared to be happy”.
The whole family is shell-shocked.
He added: “News of his arrest has shocked me to my core.
“He speaks to quite a lot of people around here about motorbikes. They seem to go to him needing help to fix them.”
Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said of Elena: “She was really friendly. Their children go to a local school.”
Pamela Cane, 77, who lives opposite, said her late partner Rod Kinnett was an officer in the Port of Dover Police for 25 years.
She told how he would discuss policing with Couzens.
Pamela explained: “My partner used to enjoy talking to him about the police service.
“They would compare stories. Wayne would also fix bikes in his garage. He was known for helping people with them.”
She also revealed that an ambulance had been spotted outside the home a few nights before the arrest took place.
A forensic tent was seen outside a home in Deal, KentCredit: PA:Press Association
Officers entered a property believed to belong to the prime suspectCredit: Paul Edwards – The Sun
An aerial picture showed Met Police conducting searches near to the disused Great Chart Golf and Leisure attraction in AshfordCredit: Dan Charity
She said: “They appeared to be the perfect family. They have a pug dog. The children were lovely.
“The whole situation is horrifying. I can’t believe this. The arrest is more shocking because he’s a police officer.
“When I heard what’s happened it’s unbelievable.”
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