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Restaurant manager ‘showed police officer CCTV footage of car used by Couzens’, hearing told

Former Metropolitan Police officer Samantha Lee denies the allegations (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)
Former Metropolitan Police officer Samantha Lee denies the allegations (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)

A restaurant manager has contradicted the evidence of a former Metropolitan Police officer who claimed she had never been shown CCTV footage of a car used by Wayne Couzens when he flashed female members of his staff.

Former police constable 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 fast food restaurant in Swanley, Kent, on February 14 and 27, a police disciplinary hearing was told.

On both occasions, Couzens was seen by female members of staff to have his pants open and his penis on display.

Ms Lee attended the restaurant on March 3, interviewing the restaurant manager hours before Sarah Everard was kidnapped by Couzens in Clapham, south west London.

Ms Lee is alleged to have lied about her actions when later questioned about the interview, as she claimed she believed that the CCTV at the restaurant deleted automatically and so there was no CCTV evidence of Couzens or the offence.

But at the hearing on Tuesday, the manager said that he had shown Ms Lee CCTV footage and told her it could be downloaded onto a USB stick.

“I showed her on the actual screen in the office,” he told the hearing.

“I showed her what I looked at before using the time from the receipts and it shows the car coming around.”

He said he explained to her that Couzens’ registration plate could be seen in the CCTV footage of the second incident.

I told her (Samantha Lee) everything I knew and I explained how we caught him (Wayne Couzens) out the second time

Restaurant manager Sam Taylor

He said he knew what times to play the CCTV at because of the time stamps on Couzens’ receipts.

The manager added: “I said we could burn this on a USB.”

He said he showed her all the evidence he had.

“I told her everything I knew and I explained how we caught him out the second time,” he said.

He said that Ms Lee stayed at the restaurant for “probably” 10 minutes in total.

“It wasn’t quick, it wasn’t long either, it was probably 10 minutes,” he said.

The manager also told the hearing he gave her Couzens’ receipts from the two incidents, which showed the same last four digits of a credit card number, and witness statements he had gathered from the victims.

On March 12, a meeting was held between Ms Lee and her commanding officer Inspector Rita Jones, after the arrest of Couzens three days earlier.

Ms Jones said she was “shocked” to discover that Ms Lee still had the witness statements and they had not been placed in a sealed evidence bag.

“I was a tiny bit shocked she still had them,” she said. “This was two weeks later.”

She added that Ms Lee did not mention the existence of the receipts, and that she did not realise at the time that there had been two incidents of flashing.

However, she said that Couzens’ offending during the incidents was, at most, “medium risk” and it would not have been treated as needing an “immediate call”.

“The risk is now at the level of a medium risk,” she said.

“You would ask them to do it as a priority, maybe not as an immediate call, but as a priority.”

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

He was already serving life behind bars for kidnapping Ms Everard as she walked home through Clapham, south London, on March 3 2021 and then murdering her.

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

Ms Lee is said to have breached the force’s standards on duties and responsibilities as well as honesty and integrity.

If she is found to have committed gross misconduct, she could be banned from serving in the force again.

She denies both allegations.

The misconduct hearing at Palestra House in Southwark is expected to last seven days.