london murder | 

Kate Middleton makes unscheduled visit to pay respects at Sarah Everard memorial

Metropolitan Police constable has been charged in court with kidnap and murder

Sarah Everard

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Kate Middleton made an unannounced visit to a memorial for Sarah Everard this evening as she “remembers what it felt like to walk around London at night."

The 33-year-old’s remains were found on Friday, over a week after she disappeared in the city

The Duchess of Cambridge (39) was seen leaving flowers at the memorial located in Clapham Common, an area near Everard's home in Brixton, where she was last seen walking on March 3.

"She wanted to pay her respects to Sarah and her family," a royal source said. "She remembers what it felt like to walk around London at night."

Everard's disappearance while walking home sparked a massive police search. On Friday, it was confirmed that remains found over 80km from where she was last seen belonged to Everard.

The Metropolitan Police have since announced that a "serving police constable" has been charged in court "with the kidnap and murder of" Everard.

Wayne Couzens (48) appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on Saturday for his first hearing. His next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Everard's death has also prompted many women to share their stories about fearing for themselves when walking at night.

"Like everyone across London, I have been deeply saddened and shocked by the death of Sarah Everard. My heart goes out to her family, friends and everyone who had the joy to know her," Metropolitan Police Commander Catherine Roper said in a statement on Friday.

"No woman in London should be unsafe on London's streets and I understand the strength of feeling that has grown following Sarah's disappearance.

“As a woman and a police officer, I want nothing more than for women to feel safe and protected by the police," she added. "But we need to be clear. Our city is still in a battle with Covid-19 with people continuing to be infected and sadly losing their lives. Only a few weeks ago our NHS was at breaking point, we cannot risk undoing all the hard work to reduce the infection rate."

Hundreds of mourners gathered to lay tributes at a grandstand in Clapham Common before a number of police officers moved in.

Footage posted to social media showed scuffles between Metropolitan Police officers and some of the crowd.

In Birmingham more than 100 people defied a police request to stay away from a Birmingham city centre vigil to remember Sarah.

Event organisers had called off the gathering earlier in the day following discussions with West Midlands Police, but people still turned up.

The force had warned those still intending to show up that “current Covid-19 regulations do not permit large gatherings”.

However, the hour-long vigil, which was addressed by several speakers and included a minute's silence for Ms Everard, passed off without incident and with no obvious sign of uniformed police.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “Tonight I will light a candle for Sarah Everard. The whole country's thoughts are with Sarah's friends and family at this awful time.

“Violence against women and girls is still far too common. I will do everything I can to help make our streets safe and to end this injustice.”

Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy tweeted footage of the clashes at Clapham Common. “This could have been the socially distanced vigil the community needed to remember Sarah and all the women who have lost their lives to violence. We knew what was going to happen if the event was shut down.”

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