After decades of getting away with appalling attacks on women and children, it a nickname that he must have revelled in.

Right up until the moment of his arrest for the murder of Sarah Everard, Wayne Couzens was known fondly as ‘Papa Wayne’ to colleagues, who described him as ‘our work dad’.

In reality, the man officers in the Met looked up to as a ‘father figure’ was a predator whose vile crimes would devastate the public’s faith in British policing.

Yesterday a shocking report revealed how officers failed to uncover the monster in their midst due to a toxic combination of apathy, disinterest and misogyny towards victims who reported sexual crimes, as well as catastrophic vetting blunders which failed to stop Couzens becoming a police officer in the first place.

The true scale of Couzens’ offending during his 26-year reign of terror may never be known, Lady Elish Angiolini warned yesterday.

Right up until the moment of his arrest for the murder of Sarah Everard , Wayne Couzens was known fondly as ‘Papa Wayne’ to colleagues

The first offence nearly three decades ago

Ten years before he joined the police, Couzens is said to have tried to kidnap a woman at knifepoint in north London.

The victim contacted the police shortly after the attack in 1995, but the perpetrator was never identified at the time.

It wasn’t until his conviction for Ms Everard’s murder that the victim named Couzens as the man responsible. But prosecutors said there still wasn’t enough evidence to charge him.

At the time, Couzens was in his 20s, working in a garage where friends recalled his pursuit of ‘alarmingly young’ girls. 

Often reeking of expensive aftershave, he splashed out on designer clothing, a hair transplant and drove ‘glamorous’ cars in a desperate bid to impress youngsters. 

It was around this time that Couzens is also accused of committing a serious sexual assault of a child, who was barely a teenager.

Sarah Everard went missing in south London on the night of March 3 after Couzens falsely arrested her for breaking coronavirus restrictions, then kidnapped, raped and murdered her

Sarah’s family said the inquiry helped them, not just because of its significant findings, but  because it made them feel that Sarah’s life was valued (Pictured: Jeremy Everard (left), the father of Sarah Everard, outside the Old Bailey, central London, with other family members)

Well-wishers embrace after placing flowers at a band-stand where a planned vigil in honour of Sarah Everard was cancelled after police outlawed it

Messages and floral tributes were left by well-wishers to honour victim Sarah Everard at the bandstand on Clapham Common in south London

Sarah Everard was spotted on CCTV  leaving a branch of Sainsbury’s in Brixton Hill, south London, on the night she went missing

When police searched his computer after his arrest for the subsequent murder, they found a large stash of indecent images of children. Couzens had also downloaded several sexploitation videos showing a police officer raping and murdering a woman who taunts his impotence.

Joining the Territorial Army

In 2002, Couzens joined the Territorial Army where he cornered an intimidated young reservist demanding her phone number. Couzens proudly showed young reservists his violent pornography collection in 2004, playing videos of a woman being forced to perform a sex act and shocking clips of bestiality in a bar.

In the same year he is said to have indecently exposed himself to a teenage girl in south London, who did not report the matter until 2021.

Hooked on livestream pornography, sex workers and adult dating sites, Couzens’ offending began to escalate. Between November 2006 and January 2007, he is accused of raping a woman during a singles event linked to a dating website at a bar in east London.

The victim came forward after Ms Everard’s murder, but police decided not to pursue the case due to ‘evidential difficulties’.

The true scale of Couzens’ offending during his 26-year reign of terror may never be known, Lady Elish Angiolini (pictured) warned yesterday

A failed application to join Kent Police

Couzens applied to join Kent Police and Civil Nuclear Constabulary around 2005 but he failed to make the grade in interviews.

Despite this, he was accepted as a special constable where male colleagues remembered him as a ‘phenomenal officer’ and ‘all-round good guy’. 

But some of the women who encountered him off-duty told a very different story of sexual harassment and assault. One woman was bombarded with photographs of his penis.

Another victim who was injured at a social event was tended to by Couzens, who took the opportunity to lift her skirt and squeeze her leg under the guise of putting on a plaster. 

The inquiry heard of another occasion when Couzens is alleged to have sexually assaulted a young woman in a car by putting his hand underneath her dress.

None of the incidents was reported at the time.

Yesterday a shocking report revealed how officers failed to uncover the monster in their midst due to a toxic combination of apathy, disinterest and misogyny towards victims who reported sexual crimes

Couzens’ repeated attempts to join the force as a salaried officer were rejected due to his mounting debts after taking out online payday loans no credit check loans and maxing out credit cards, making him vulnerable to corruption.

In November 2008, Couzens is said to have struck again, exposing himself to a mother pushing a pram who immediately reported the matter, but he was not traced at the time.

Lady Elish found that ‘by the time Couzens resigned from Kent Special Constabulary, he already had a history of abusive and potentially criminal sexual activity’.

‘These behaviours ranged from intimidation, sexual touching, sharing unsolicited photographs of his penis and showing extreme pornography, to an alleged very serious sexual assault against a child barely into her teens’.

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary blunder

Couzens should have been refused vetting to become a police officer due to an individual voluntary agreement, a form of insolvence he had declared in 2007.

But having been repeatedly refused by Kent Police, Couzens was accepted to join Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) in 2011 due to an extraordinary vetting blunder.

The force, which protects after nuclear facilities, outsourced vetting to Thames Valley Police who recommended that Couzens be rejected.

Ten years before he joined the police, Couzens is said to have tried to kidnap a woman at knifepoint in north London

But in the meantime, CNC bosses were so desperate for new recruits that they had already decided to sponsor Couzens for national vetting clearance before hearing back from Thames Valley Police about the rejection.

Yesterday Chief Constable Simon Chesterman apologised, saying: ‘Wayne Couzens should not have been in the police service.

‘The Civil Nuclear Constabulary accepts our part in this and I unreservedly apologise for the fact that man became a police officer.’

The night Couzens went missing

In a chilling echo of the night Ms Everard was murdered, Couzens went out on the prowl in a courtesy car on June 30, 2013.

He was reported missing to police at 1.44am after failing to return from a 9pm gym session in Folkestone. A vehicle registration check revealed he was miles away in Ashford.

Lady Elish said: ‘Couzens could have been driving around looking for a victim, in the same way as he did almost eight years later on the evening he abducted Sarah Everard and on other dates in the lead-up to his crimes.’

Police were told around 4am that he was on his way home, but in reality Couzens had booked himself into a hotel room.

Couzens should have been refused vetting to become a police officer due to an individual voluntary agreement, a form of insolvence he had declared in 2007

Missed opportunity to stop a killer

In 2015, Couzens was reported driving around Dover naked from below the waist by a caller who provided the make, model and registration of his car.

Within minutes of the call, vehicle records revealed Couzens was the insured driver.

A sergeant stationed in Ashford, where Couzens had previously worked, twice accessed a file revealing that Couzens was a former special constable in the force. But the officer logged that ‘no crime’ had been committed, suggesting the caller’s account was disputed.

How did he pass the Met’s vetting system?

Drowning in debt due to a succession of online payday loans no credit check, including cash taken from police welfare funds, Couzens decided to join the Met in 2018 hoping for a pay rise.

In yet another vetting blunder, re-vetting by the Met should have flagged that his car was linked to the 2015 unsolved indecent exposure. But inexplicably officers recorded there was ‘no trace’ of any linked crimes on the Police National Database.

Worryingly, even after Couzens had been prosecuted, Met bosses were still insisting in 2022 that there was no reason that he would not have passed Met vetting. Within a year, the officer, who colleagues described as a ‘very happy, friendly and smiley’, had secretly bought covert surveillance equipment in preparation for ‘hunting trips’ around London.

In 2020, police missed yet another opportunity to catch Couzens when he leapt out of the woods at a female cyclist, standing naked and carrying out a sex act

He bought a ‘mini spy car key chain’ consisting of a motion detection camera and hidden camcorder, a pocket-size telescope and an ‘eyewear video spy camera’ with a hidden lens that could be attached to a pair of glasses.

Police believe Couzens raped a woman in December 2019 who reported being attacked in a tunnel under a bridge in London, but he was not identified at the time.

He is also suspected of groping a man in drag at a bar in the summer.

At the same time, Couzens was swapping sickening messages with colleagues advocating the sexual assault of domestic abuse victims. When no one reported him, Couzens’ deviant behaviour continued to escalate.

In December 2020, he was seen in his home town wearing handcuffs, a baton and pepper spray.

When questioned, he lied, claiming he was undercover.

He began messaging women selling clothing online payday loans no credit check, asking them to masturbate on bikinis and shorts and send them to him.

The 51-year-old went on to expose himself to two terrified female attendants at a McDonald’s drive-through restaurant in Kent on February 14 and 27, 2021

An escalating pattern of evil

In 2020, police missed yet another opportunity to catch Couzens when he leapt out of the woods at a female cyclist, standing naked and carrying out a sex act in a remote country lane in Kent in November.

The cyclist told a female police officer what had happened within minutes of the attack – which was only a few miles from where Couzens took Ms Everard after kidnapping her.

But police were unable to trace Couzens at the time after the victim could not recall his full number plate.

The 51-year-old went on to expose himself to two terrified female attendants at a McDonald’s drive-through restaurant in Kent on February 14 and 27, 2021, with the last attack just three days before Couzens snatched Ms Everard from a street in south London.

Police were given his description, car registration and bank card details, yet officers failed to investigate any of the attacks, interview the victims or identify the sex offender as one of their own officers until he had been arrested for the murder.

A day later, Couzens booked the hire car that he would use to abduct Ms Everard as she walked home from a friend’s house.

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