Ex-Met PC guilty of gross misconduct In Wayne Couzens Flashing Case

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Former Police Officer Samantha Lee has been found guilty of gross misconduct for failing to properly investigate reports of Wayne Couzens flashing female staff at a McDonald's restaurant.

The incident occurred just days before Couzens abducted and murdered Sarah Everard. Lee's misleading account and breach of professional standards were revealed during a disciplinary hearing, leading to her dismissal from the police force and being barred from serving in the future.


Samantha Lee's Failure to Investigate

Former Metropolitan Police officer Samantha Lee has been found guilty of gross misconduct for her failure to make the correct inquiries when Wayne Couzens exposed himself to female members of staff at a McDonald's restaurant in Swanley, Kent. Two incidents took place on February 14 and 27, 2021, which were reported by the restaurant's employees. Lee attended the restaurant on March 3 and interviewed the manager, Sam Taylor, just hours before Couzens kidnapped Sarah Everard.


Samantha Lee, Source: BBC.co.uk


Misleading Account and Breach of Professional Standards:

 During the investigation, Lee provided a misleading account when questioned by watchdog investigators. She claimed that she believed the CCTV footage at the restaurant was deleted automatically, suggesting there would be no evidence of Couzens or the offence. However, it was later revealed that Lee had been shown the CCTV footage by the restaurant manager, who even pointed out the registration plate of Couzens' vehicle, which was used in the abduction of Sarah Everard. This misleading account and breach of professional standards led to the finding of gross misconduct against Lee.


Pressure and Tragic Outcome:

The disciplinary panel, chaired by Darren Snow, acknowledged that Lee's dishonesty was driven by the immense pressure of the investigation. However, they concluded that her actions constituted gross misconduct. Lee, in her defence, admitted to making errors but maintained that nothing she could have done would have changed the tragic outcome of Sarah Everard's murder.

Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Stuart Cundy said:

“The purpose of the gross misconduct hearing was not to decide whether Wayne Couzens’ future offending could have been prevented.

“The wider circumstances leading to Sarah Everard’s terrible murder will be considered by the Angiolini Inquiry and any subsequent inquest, and we are fully assisting them with their vital work.

“Fundamentally, I am sorry that Couzens was not arrested before he went on to murder Sarah Everard and we continue to think of her loved ones.”


Lee's Statement and Couzens' Conviction

Following the hearing, Samantha Lee stated outside Palestra House that she felt like a scapegoat in the case.

She added:

“I am a young female PC and I am the only person who has faced any disciplinary action in relation to this. “There is only one person who is responsible for everything that happened and that is Wayne Couzens. I have never lied.”

Wayne Couzens, already serving a whole-life sentence for the kidnap, rape, and murder of Sarah Everard, was sentenced to an additional 19 months in prison after admitting three counts of indecent exposure.


IOPC's Call for Change:

In light of the investigations related to Couzens, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announced the need for a national system to alert police forces when criminal allegations are made against serving officers. The lack of such a system was revealed by Couzens' case, highlighting the necessity for early awareness within the police when officers become suspects.

The gross misconduct finding against Samantha Lee, the former Metropolitan Police officer, underscores the failures in properly investigating Wayne Couzens' flashing incidents before he committed the heinous crime of kidnapping and murdering Sarah Everard. The case highlights the importance of accountability and the need for improved systems within the police force to address criminal allegations against officers promptly. The tragic outcome of Sarah Everard's murder continues to be a somber reminder of the importance of thorough investigations and ensuring the safety of the public.

Samantha Lee. Source: Facebook

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