According to the hearing, the officer missed a chance to investigate Wayne Couzens prior to the murder of Sarah Everad
The former Metropolitan Police officer allegedly missed an opportunity to properly investigate Wayne Couzens over two incidents of kidnapping just hours before he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard.
Former police officer Samantha Lee is said to have failed to make “the proper inquiries” into two incidents when Couzens exposed herself to female staff at a restaurant in Swanley, Kent on February 14 and 27, a police disciplinary hearing said.
Ms Lee visited the restaurant on March 3 and interviewed the branch manager hours before Ms Everard was kidnapped by Couzens in Clapham, south west London.
She is also said to have lied about her actions during questioning and claimed she believed the restaurant’s CCTV was automatically cleared, Monday’s hearing revealed.
According to Sam Taylor, the manager of the McDonald’s drive-in, Couzens was spotted unbuttoning his pants and displaying his penis on both occasions by female employees.
Mr Taylor’s statement said: “On both occasions the customer was seated in his car with his pants fully down and his penis on display.”
Paul Ozin KC opened the case Monday on behalf of the Met Police and said at the hearing that the matter was being reviewed and deemed “less urgent” than other police matters after Mr Taylor reported the incidents on March 28 February had reported to the Met police to deal with it.
Mr Ozin said a computer check was carried out after Mr Taylor called and the check confirmed the black Seat Exeo had been registered to Wayne Couzens since January 2018.
He added: “There is no uniform verification of whether the suspects in police crime cases are police officers.”
Ms. Lee visited the restaurant on the afternoon of March 3rd.
It was her last appointment that day.
“We understand the work done was rushed work,” Mr Ozin said.
Mr Ozin said Mr Taylor claims to have explained to Ms Lee that while CCTV of the drive-through cleared automatically, other CCTV footage showed Couzens’ car.
He claimed he showed her the other CCTV. He also showed her receipts, which in both cases contained the last four digits of Couzens’ card, and testimonies from two employees.
He told the hearing that Ms Lee’s case was that she spoke to Mr Taylor when she was at McDonald’s but he did not show her CCTV footage of the incident.
“PC Lee said he showed her the CCTV system and how it worked, but didn’t show her any footage or anything about the incident,” he said.
He said she accepted that she did in fact take possession of Mr Taylor’s receipts and witness statements.
In a report drawn up after the restaurant visit, Ms Lee recommended Couzens be arrested and questioned.
Mr Ozin said Ms Lee claims she believes the report would be reassigned to another team for follow-up.
However, Mr Ozin said she did not put the witness statements and the receipts in a sealed evidence bag but instead kept them in a pocket of her body armour.
Mr Ozin said: “One of the central questions of this case is whether there has been a terrible misunderstanding.”
He said that Ms Lee’s behavior “suggests that she was more anxious to escape quickly than to perform her duties properly”.
He added: “It supports the uncomfortable conclusion that PC Lee simply didn’t bother getting the CCTV knowing it was important, but instead relied on others to do it for her.” .”
“And that she later lied to others when she knew the stakes had risen astronomically.”
In March this year, Couzens was sentenced to 19 months in prison after admitting to three counts of indecent exposure.
He was already serving a life sentence for kidnapping and then murdering Ms Everard on March 3, 2021 on her way home through Clapham, south London.
The third indecent exposure incident relates to Couzens exposing himself to a cyclist on a country lane in Kent in November 2020.
Ms. Lee is said to have violated Armed Forces standards of duty and responsibility, honesty and integrity.
If it turns out that she has committed gross misconduct, she could be banned from serving with the police again.
She denies both allegations.
The misconduct hearing at Palestra House in Southwark is expected to last seven days.
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/police-officer-wayne-couzens-flashing-before-sarah-everard-murder-diciplinary-hearing-b1081195.html According to the hearing, the officer missed a chance to investigate Wayne Couzens prior to the murder of Sarah Everad