Sarah Everard’s body returned to family for funeral as inquest formally opened
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The inquest into Sarah Everard's death has formally been opened in Kent, days after a second post mortem was ordered to help determine her precise cause of death.
A coroner began proceedings at Maidstone County Hall, Kent, as police continue their investigations into what happened to the 33-year-old.
Senior coroner Patricia Harding appeared via video-link to accommodate the large number of people in attendance at the inquest opening.
Sarah's mother, father, sister and brother were all watching proceedings as Acting Detective Inspector Lee Tullet confirmed that the marking executive's body has now been released to her family for a funeral to go ahead.
The coroner then declared the inquest open before adjourning awaiting the results of legal proceedings related to the case.
Ending the hearing, Ms Harding told Sarah's family: "All that remains is to express to the family watching today how very sorry I am for your loss.”
The opening comes after a second post-mortem examination was carried out on Sarah Everard’s body at the request of the coroner when the first proved inconclusive.
Ms Everard went missing on March 3 while walking home after visiting a friend in south London.
Her body was found inside a builder's bag in woodland near Ashford in Kent a week later, and serving police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, from Deal, also in Kent, has been charged with her murder.
A provisional trial date has been set for October 25, with a plea hearing on July 9.
Elsewhere in the county, a large police presence has been seen in the town of Sandwich as officers continue to search for clues.
On Monday, police were seen searching a shopping trolley shelter outside a Co-operative supermarket and looking under vehicles.
Meanwhile, specialist divers have been called up from Devon and Cornwall and have been combing a small stretch of water.
Sarah was reported missing by her boyfriend on March 4, the day after she was last seen.
After her body was found, she was formally identified through her dental records.
A post-mortem examination has taken place but no cause of death has yet been given.
On the night she vanished, she had left a friend’s house at around 9pm to make the 2.5mile journey home to nearby Brixton.
She called her boyfriend for around 14 minutes and there has been no activity on her mobile phone since.
Couzens, who worked on the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command unit, was not on duty at the time of Sarah’s disappearance.
- Sarah Everard
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