EVEN with Covid masks on, the anguish of the women who gathered to pay their respects to Sarah Everard could not be missed.
Their eyes were awash with tears as they came to light candles and lay flowers to remember the 33-year-old, who had been abducted, raped and murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens while walking home in Clapham, South London, ten days earlier.
Patsy Stevenson’s dramatic arrest at the vigil for tragic Sarah Everard[/caption]
Hundreds of women had gathered at a makeshift shrine on Clapham Common to pay their respects to Sarah Everard[/caption]
Student Patsy Stevenson was one of hundreds of women, including the Princess of Wales, who converged on a makeshift shrine in Clapham Common where Sarah had taken her final journey on March 3, 2021.
But before the evening was over, it was not grief on Patsy’s face but howls of agony as her 5ft 1in, slightly built frame was pinned to the ground by two police officers.
A photo of Patsy, from Essex, being held face-down with her hands behind her back ended up on newspaper front pages and TV news programmes both at home and abroad.
Conspiracy theorists were quick to claim she was an actress who staged the arrest, or a hard-left agitator.
Yet she insists she was not a political activist before Sarah’s murder and only went to the Common to “put a candle down and leave”.
Now, two years on from Sarah’s murder, anger at the terrible treatment of women by some in the police is growing ever stronger.
And Patsy knows all too well what can happen to females who stand up for their safety.
After she was forcibly removed from the common, a police inspector told her she should be thrown into the sea, while other officers tried to date her on Tinder, serious death threats were ignored, and she was stalked and set upon at another protest.
Today, in an exclusive interview with The Sun, 30-year-old Patsy tells for the first time of the deep emotional scars left by her encounter with the police that day.
She said: “I had nightmares about being pinned down.
“I had flashbacks. I was anxious and paranoid about the police when I went out.
“One time I was so anxious I got a migraine so severe that I had to go to hospital.
“They gave me morphine and anti-anxiety tablets and anti-sickness meds.”
The Met Police’s heavy handed tactics at the vigil on March 13, 2021, were criticised by politicians, with the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he was “deeply concerned” by the shocking images and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer calling the police response “deeply disturbing”.
When Patsy attended the vigil, she says she was not a member of Reclaim These Streets, the women’s safety group that had called for the day of reflection.
Like so many women, she had simply been horrified by news of Sarah’s disappearance and even more shocked when it was revealed the killer was policeman Couzens, who had been nicknamed “The Rapist” by fellow officers.
Patsy said: “When they found the body, I couldn’t imagine what the family were going through.
“She was a woman just walking through a park, doing all the things you have been taught to do — wear the right clothing, text someone.
“You shouldn’t have to do that stuff, but even when you do, it still happens.”
Late on the day of the vigil, Reclaim These Streets were forced to cancel after the police threatened to fine them £10,000 each for breaking Covid lockdown laws.
But hundreds of women still turned up, and last year two High Court judges ruled that Met officers had breached the organisers’ rights by banning the gathering.
Patsy recalled arriving at the Common: “You could feel the grief.
“You could see women with their face masks on and when you looked into their eyes there was a connection.
“I got emotional. I cried.
“Anyone you looked at was either hugging someone or crying.”
There were parents and children mingling around a bandstand which was circled by flowers and candles.
But at around 6pm women reported being pushed towards the makeshift shrine by officers closing in behind them.
Patsy recalled: “When the police got hold of me I was telling myself, ‘I am not going to cry, I’m not going to cry’.
“I didn’t want to feel like a victim.
“It’s an odd situation because everything rushes before your eyes. I was terrified.”
Police carried her to the edge of the park, took her details and let her go.
Patsy, who had never before been arrested, is now trying to sue the Met for unlawful arrest and assault.
She said: “I have heard so many stories from other women who were there that involve physical violence. It’s crazy.”
That might have been the end of matters if it wasn’t for the frightening backlash from trolls — including a serving male police officer.
An Inspector is being investigated for 40 tweets that include a text saying Patsy should have been “thrown in the sea at high tide”.
She said: “I don’t think the police should be allowed to post messages on social media about people who have been involved with the police or affected by crime.”
Bizarrely, some conspiracists claimed Patsy had brought her own photographer to the vigil, even though the widely seen picture of her above was taken by celebrated Sunday Times photographer Jack Hill.
One man rang Patsy and threatened to kill her, yet when she took the case to the police, the officer quizzed her about why she had been on the common.
She said: “I don’t think it should matter, because I don’t deserve to be murdered.”
In another incident a man lunged at her at a pro-choice demonstration, and she was followed by a stalker not far from her home.
But rather than being deterred by the threats, she is now more determined than ever to speak out.
She has met politicians in Parliament and has written articles on women’s safety.
She says the need for urgent change has never been clearer.
The Met is investigating more than 1,000 officers for allegations of sexual and domestic abuse.
Last month former gun cop David Carrick was sentenced to life imprisonment for multiple rapes, while last year officers at London’s Charing Cross police station were found to have shared messages about hitting and raping women.
More recently there was an outcry over the way Lancashire police conducted the search for missing mum Nicola Bulley.
Patsy said: “Nothing has changed two years on from Sarah Everard’s death.
“There are no consequences in the police to that behaviour and the people at the top allow it to be perpetuated.
“That lets it breed and it gets worse and worse.
“It is not something that is going to change overnight.
“A lot more needs to be done.”
The decision by Lancashire officers to reveal that Nicola Bulley had alohol, mental health and menopause issues only confirmed to Patsy that sexist attitudes are entrenched.
Kate Middleton was among women who converged on Clapham Common where Sarah had taken her final journey on March 3, 2021[/caption]
At around 6pm women reported being pushed towards the makeshift shrine by officers closing in behind them[/caption]
One man rang Patsy and threatened to kill her, yet when she took the case to the police, the officer quizzed her about why she had been on the common[/caption]
She said: “We have an absolute epidemic of women being treated less than men. It is never-ending.
“After Nicola Bulley went missing the police put out this unnecessary information about drinking alcohol and menopause.
“You wouldn’t see that written about a man.”
Before the Sarah Everard vigil, Patsy says she trusted the police, but no longer does.
And she thinks new Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley’s crackdown on rogue cops needs to work if women’s minds are to be changed.
Patsy said: “I wouldn’t feel safe if I was stopped by a police officer.
“There are things that have happened to me which I would have gone to the police about a few years ago, but I wouldn’t now.
“I don’t think they will help me and they will make it worse.”
Patsy revealed she has experienced the kind of abuse that Reclaim These Streets is campaigning to end.
Four years ago a man exposed himself as she and a friend were walking home at night.
She said: “Someone clapped and we turned round and suddenly there was this naked guy, and then he ran off.
“We told the police about it — and nothing happened.”
And she added: “The time I got cat-called the most was when I was in a school uniform.”