September 21, 2021

Sarah Wellgreen got new job shortly before ex ‘killed her and disposed of her body’

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Ben Lacomba is on trial, accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Sarah Wellgreen

A mother-of-five was murdered by the father of three of her children after she got a new job during a bitter custody battle, a court heard today.

Sarah Wellgreen, 46, was last seen alive on October 9th last year at her home just days before one of her children’s birthdays.

Her body has never been found but her former partner, Ben Lacomba, 39, is accused of her murder. His trial started in Woolwich today.

The court heard that the day before Ms Wellgreen disappeared, the beautician landed a job that would have given her enough money to get a mortgage to buy Lacomba’s share of their four-bedroom home in New Ash Green, Kent. 

Prosecutors told the jury he may have been motivated to kill Ms Wellgreen by the potential loss of his property and his children in an ongoing custody dispute.

Ms Wellgreen and Lacomba led separate lives and there was ‘tension and problems’ between them, prosecutor Alison Morgan QC told the jury.

Ms Morgan said: ‘In the early hours of the morning of October 10 2018, Sarah Jane Wellgreen disappeared from her home address in New Ash Green.

‘She was the mother of five children. She had just secured a new job and was leading a happy life with much to look forward to.

‘That night, she was not abducted and murdered by a stranger. She did not leave her home voluntarily, abandoning her children, for whatever reason, never to return.

‘She was murdered by this defendant, her former partner. He then disposed of her body and to this date, despite extensive searches by the police, her body has not been found. Only this defendant knows where it is and exactly what he did that night.’

A court heard today that Ms Wellgreen was in the process of getting a new job and buying her ex out of the family home when she disappeared

A court heard Ms Wellgreen had landed a new job with a good salary the day before she was last seen alive on the evening of October 9.

She sent a text to a male friend making plans to meet up and saying: ‘There is always something to look forward to, you just need to open your eyes a bit more and dream.’

Ms Morgan continued: ‘The prosecution alleges that the defendant [Lacomba] murdered Sarah in a calculated manner, designed to avoid detection, to leave no trace and to remove Sarah Wellgreen.

‘Despite his best efforts, he did leave a trace. In fact, he left far more than a trace of evidence.

‘The prosecution alleges that what he left behind provides a compelling picture from which you can be sure that he alone is responsible for Sarah Wellgreen’s murder and disappearance.’

On the night Ms Wellgreen disappeared, Lacomba had parked his car in an unusually dark place away from neighbours’ CCTV cameras, the court heard. He also turned off CCTV to the house.

Ms Morgan said: ‘The defendant claims he was asleep in bed. His own child says otherwise.’

Police at the former couple’s home during in the days after her disappearance

The child, who cannot be identified, told police neither of their parents were in when they woke in middle of night.

One neighbour said that, in the summer 2018, Lacomba turned up at his house twice to look at what his own cameras covered of the communal car park.

Ms Morgan said: ‘The defendant knew exactly what would and would not be captured and, consistent with his steps to turn off the CCTV cameras from his own address, he took deliberate steps to take Sarah, likely dead by now, out of the address and into his car, avoiding being captured in the CCTV footage.’

Footage from other locations captured what appears to be a red Vauxhall Zafira with taxi markings travelling down dark lanes, disappearing for two hours, and then returning.

Ms Morgan said: ‘Experts concluded the analysis lends support to the contention that the vehicle going out and coming back that night is the same make and model as the defendant’s vehicle.’ 

Sarah and Lacomba met online in 2004, initially having a long distance relationship before she moved to live with him in Majorca, taking her two children, now both adults, from a previous relationship.

They returned to the UK due to financial losses in 2006, with Lacomba starting work as a taxi driver in 2008.

The couple split in 2014 but Sarah, who formed a new relationship, continued to live with Lacomba.

Police pictured during the investigation into Ms Wellgreen’s disappearance last October

They led separate lives and, when Lacomba changed the locks on the house, she moved to Portsmouth to live with her parents.

She later moved back in but, Ms Morgan said, there was no relationship ‘in the slightest’ between them, despite his request that they get back together.

By early October, Ms Wellgreen was in the process of buying Lacomba’s share of the four-bedroom property, the court heard.

Just one day before she disappeared she landed a new job in the beauty industry with a salary which would give her this independence from Lacomba, the court heard.

Miss Morgan said he would have been forced out of his home, with limited access to his children.

She added that as far as Sarah was concerned, there was ‘nothing to suggest she was in anything other than a positive frame of mind’ by the time of her death.

Lacomba denies murder. The trial continues.

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