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Former Met officer allegedly “missed opportunity” to investigate Couzens

The former PC is facing a disciplinary hearing over allegedly breaching standards on duties and responsibilities as well as honesty and integrity.

A former Met officer allegedly missed an opportunity to properly investigate Wayne Couzens over two incidents of flashing just hours before he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard.

Former PC Samantha Lee is said to have failed to make “the correct investigative inquiries” over two incidents when Couzens exposed himself to female members of staff at a restaurant in Kent, on February 14 and 27, a disciplinary hearing was told today.

Ms Lee had attended the McDonalds restaurant on March 3 – interviewing the branch’s manager hours before Sarah Everard was kidnapped.

She is also said to have lied about her actions when questioned, claiming that she believed that the CCTV at the restaurant deleted automatically.

She denies the two allegations against her. 

The manager of the McDonald’s drive-through, Sam Taylor, gave a statement that read: “On both occasions the customer was sitting in his car with his trousers fully down and his penis out on display.”

Opening the case on behalf of the Met, Paul Ozin KC, told the hearing that after Mr Taylor reported the incidents to the Met Police on February 28, the matter was triaged and recorded as “less urgent” than other matters the force have to deal with.

Mr Ozin said that a computer check was done after Mr Taylor made the call, and the check confirmed that the black Seat Exeo had been registered to Wayne Couzens since January 2018.

He added: “There is no standard check that takes place to see whether a suspect in criminal police cases are police officers.”

Ms Lee attended the restaurant as her last appointment of the day on March 3.

“We suggest that the work carried out was a rushed job,” Mr Ozin said.

Mr Taylor reportedly claims to have explained to Ms Lee that while the drive-through CCTV deletes automatically, other CCTV footage showed Couzens’ car.

He claimed that he showed her the other CCTV. He also showed her receipts which recorded the last four digits of Couzens’ card on both occasions, as well as witness statements taken from two members of staff.

According to Mr Ozin, Ms Lee’s case is that she spoke to Mr Taylor, that he showed her the CCTV system, but that he did not show her any CCTV footage.

He said that she accepted that she did indeed take possession of receipts and witness statements from Mr Taylor.

A report that former PC Lee made after attending recommended that Couzens be arrested and questioned.

Mr Ozin said that Ms Lee claims that she believed that the report would be allocated to a different team to follow up on.

However, Mr Ozin said that she did not put the witness statements and the receipts in a sealed evidence bag, instead keeping them in a pocket in her body armour.

Mr Ozin said: “One of the central issues of this case is whether there has been some horrible misunderstanding.”

He said that Ms Lee’s behaviour “suggests that she was more intent in getting away quickly than in performing her duties properly”.

He added: “It is supportive of the unpalatable conclusion that that PC Lee just did not bother to get the CCTV, even though she knew it was important, instead relying on others to do that instead of her.

“And that she later lied to others when she knew that the stakes had escalated astronomically.”

In March, Couzens was sentenced to 19 months in prison after admitting three counts of indecent exposure.

He was already serving life behind bars for kidnapping and murdering Ms Everard. 

The third indecent exposure incident relates to when Couzens exposed himself to a female cyclist on a Kent country lane in November 2020.

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