SARAH Everard’s murderer Wayne Couzens should never have been given a job as a police officer and chances to stop the sexual predator were repeatedly ignored and missed, an inquiry has found.

Police “repeatedly failed” to spot warning signs about his “unsuitability for office,” a damning report concluded amid fears many more women and girls could have been victims of Couzens.

Publishing her findings on Thursday, inquiry chair Lady Elish Angiolini warned that without a radical overhaul of policing practices and culture, there is “nothing to stop another Couzens operating in plain sight”.

Three different police forces “could and should” have stopped Couzens from getting a job as an officer, she said, as she identified a catalogue of failings in how he was recruited and vetted, and how allegations against him were investigated.

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Everard’s family said in response that they believe the 33-year-old marketing executive died because Couzens was a police officer, adding: “She would never have got into a stranger’s car.”

Branding Couzens a “predatory sex offender and murderer,” the inquiry laid bare a history of alleged sexual offending dating back nearly 20 years before the off-duty armed Metropolitan Police officer abducted Everard in March 2021.

According to the report, over the last two years the inquiry uncovered evidence Couzens was accused of a string of other incidents of sexual abuse, including a “very serious sexual assault of a child barely into her teens”.

The findings identified at least five incidents which were not reported to police, with Angiolini saying she believes there could be more victims.

Setting out a raft of recommendations to “make sure something like this can never happen again,” Angiolini said “now is the time for change,” adding: “Wayne Couzens should never have been a police officer. And, without a significant overhaul, there is nothing to stop another Couzens operating in plain sight."

She urged “all those in authority in every police force in the country” to read the report and “take immediate action”.

Among the measures, Angiolini called for an urgent review of indecent exposure charges against serving officers and said reports of the crime need to be taken seriously.

Everard’s mother Sue, father Jeremy, sister Katie and brother James said in a statement: “It is obvious that Wayne Couzens should never have been a police officer. Whilst holding a position of trust, in relative he was a serial sex offender.

“Warning signs were overlooked throughout his career and opportunities to confront him were missed.

“We believe that Sarah (below) died because he was a police officer – she would never have got into a stranger’s car.”

The National: Undated family handout photo of Sarah Everard issued by the Crown Prosecution Service. Former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, will appear at the Old Bailey in London, on the first day of a two-day sentence hearing after pleading guilty to

Home Secretary James Cleverly said Everard was “failed in more ways than one by the people who were meant to keep her safe,” but stressed the actions of Couzens were “not a reflection on the majority of dedicated police officers”.

Meanwhile, Met Commissioner Mark Rowley described the findings as “an urgent call to action for all of us in policing” and said the service must “go further and faster” to gain back the trust of the public in the wake of the scandal.

Couzens – who will never be released from prison – used his status as a police officer to trick Miss Everard into thinking he could arrest her for breaking lockdown rules in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

After the harrowing killing, it emerged there had been concerns about Couzens’s behaviour while he was a police officer, with reports he was nicknamed “the rapist”.

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He joined Kent Police as a special constable in 2002, became an officer with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary in 2011 and then moved to the Met in 2018.

Couzens indecently exposed himself three times before the murder, including twice at a drive-through fast-food restaurant in Kent in the days prior to the killing.

He was not caught despite driving his own car and using his own credit card at the time.

Then-Met police constable Samantha Lee was sacked and barred from being a police officer after it was found she had not properly investigated the incidents.

Couzens was also later revealed to have been part of a WhatsApp group with fellow officers that shared disturbing racist, homophobic and misogynist remarks.

Ordered by then home secretary Priti Patel, the inquiry tasked with looking at how Couzens came to be a police officer and was able to carry out the murder has so far cost £2.9 million, according to figures to September last year.

The first phase of the inquiry considered evidence covering a 20-year period, reviewing more than 100,000 pages of documents and carrying out 144 interviews, prompting 76 conclusions and making 16 recommendations for improvement.

The inquiry continues in two parts, looking at the crimes of David Carrick – who also served in the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command and was jailed for life last year after being unmasked as a serial rapist – and considering the wider problems within the police in the wake of both cases.