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Sarah Everard: Police dig up garden as officer arrested and distraught family says situation is 'dire'

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·4-min read
Police have begun searching woodland as part of their investigation into the disappearance of Sarah Everard. (Met Police/PA)
Police have begun searching woodland as part of their investigation into the disappearance of Sarah Everard. (Met Police/PA)

Police investigating the disappearance of Sarah Everard have begun searching a home and woodland in Kent.

An unnamed serving Metropolitan Police officer was arrested in Deal, Kent, on Tuesday night, in a development described as "deeply disturbing" by a senior officer.

On Wednesday, officers searched a home in Deal and woodland near Great Chart Golf and Leisure in Ashford, Kent, as part of their investigation into the 33-year-old's disappearance on 3 March.

A neighbour on the same road as the house in Deal said an officer lives there with his “chatty” wife and two children.

"They just seemed like a normal, regular family, there was nothing strange about them at all," she said, adding that police were digging up the garden.

Police have set up a tent at a property in Deal, Kent. (PA)
Police have set up a tent at a property in Deal, Kent. (PA)

Everard's uncle Nick told Sky News "things are utterly dire" but the family is "waiting for positive news from the police".

The Metropolitan Police officer arrested in connection with the 33-year-old's disappearance was not on duty when she vanished, investigators believe.

He remained in custody this morning, as did an unnamed woman who was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Speaking to journalists outside Scotland Yard on Wednesday, Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said: "Our inquiries suggest that this officer was not on duty at the time of Sarah’s disappearance."

Vehicles from the Metropolitan Police parked near to Great Chart Golf and Leisure. (PA)
Vehicles from the Metropolitan Police parked near to Great Chart Golf and Leisure. (PA)

AC Ephgrave did not say if the officer was known to Everard, who disappeared while walking from Clapham to her home in Brixton, south London, or what he was arrested for.

"This is a serious and significant development in our search for Sarah and the fact that the man who has been arrested is a serving Metropolitan Police officer is both shocking and deeply disturbing," AC Ephgrave told reporters.

He added: "As a father myself of four young women I can only imagine the anguish that Sarah’s family are feeling at this very very difficult time."

Police began putting up a metal fence around the Deal property, where multiple cars were taken from.

A man in a blue forensic suit was seen looking in a garage next to the property. He took pictures before closing the door.

Police conduct a search near to Great Chart Golf and Leisure in Ashford, Kent.  (PA)
Police conduct a search near to Great Chart Golf and Leisure in Ashford, Kent. (PA)

Neighbours said a helicopter was circling above.

Matt Mullan, 29, said: "Last night there was police cars outside all night. I thought this is a bit strange, not normal for round here.

"It was about 8-9pm there was heavy traffic out there and there has been police cars outside all morning."

Matt Housely said: "First thing you think, has someone been murdered?"

Residents near the golf course in Ashford said police arrived around midnight and a helicopter flew over early in the morning.

Everard, a marketing executive, is thought to have walked through Clapham Common on her way home, a trip that should have taken less than an hour.

She was last seen on footage captured by a doorbell camera, walking along the A205 Poynders Road towards Tulse Hill, at about 9.30pm.

Police released new images of Sarah Everard as they continue to investigate her disappearance. (Met Police)
Police released new images of Sarah Everard as they continue to investigate her disappearance. (Met Police)

Officers have searched Clapham Common, and on Tuesday evening investigators set up a cordon at a block of flats near to where Everard was last seen.

Sniffer dogs were used to search the nearby Oaklands Estate and gardens while police lifted covers and searched drains along the A205.

More than 120 calls have been received and 750 homes in the area have been visited as part of the investigation, the Met said.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan told the PA news agency: "First and foremost I think all of our thoughts would be with Sarah’s family, her parents and her siblings and her friends.

"It must be awful for them, they are in our thoughts and prayers.

Police cordons outside Poynders Court on the A205 in Clapham, during the continuing search for missing woman Sarah Everard. The 33-year-old disappeared after leaving a friend's house in Clapham, south London, on Wednesday evening at around 9pm and began walking home to Brixton. Picture date: Tuesday March 9, 2021.
Police cordoned off flats on the A205 in south London. (PA)
Police searched Clapham Common as part of the search for Everard. (SWNS)
Police searched Clapham Common as part of the search for Everard. (SWNS)

"Actually Sarah went missing from near to where I live and we’ve seen, my wife and daughters walking around, the posters her friends have put up and it’s heart-breaking, it’s heart-wrenching.

"It is now in the public domain that a serving Met Police officer has been arrested.

"One of the things that this confirms that actually our police service, when it comes to keeping the public safe, when it comes to investigating crime, they work in a situation that is without fear or favour.

"They will follow the investigation to wherever it takes."