Published: 14:25, 03 October 2019
| Updated: 08:36, 04 October 2019
The moment Ben Lacomba is said to have turned his own CCTV cameras off to avoid detection on the night he’s alleged to have murdered ex partner Sarah Wellgreen, has been played out in court.
Police scoured 22,000 hours of CCTV footage - from surrounding streets and properties, and number 22 Bazes Shaw, New Ash Green, itself, where the estranged couple had been living together - as part of the investigation into Sarah’s disappearance on the night of October 9-10 last year.
CCTV shown to the jury
The jury at Woolwich Crown Court heard some of those hours included footage from infra red cameras at neighbouring 23 Bazes Shaw, which were able to pick up key moments when CCTV cameras at 22 were turned off in the run up to the night it’s alleged Sarah was killed, and on the night itself.
Police later found the control console for the CCTV in Lacomba’s bedroom.
While it was found to not be recording properly they believe he wasn’t aware of that fact and turned off the cameras to be doubly certain of not being captured.
Lacomba himself, bespectacled and dressed smartly in a navy blue suit, followed closely as footage was played in court and DS Alistair Worton gave evidence to accompany it.
“Did you identify that the cameras are on at 00.12.16, but were off at 00.12.17,” prosecutor Alison Morgan QC asked Mr Worton.
“Yes” he replied, and a screenshot of the CCTV log confirmed the same timing.
Scouring infra red footage of the previous months police ascertained the cameras had been constantly on, until they were turned off on October 3 for an hour and a half, and again for a period of time between October 8 and 9.
The prosecution suggest these were practice runs before the night of October 9 to October 10, and that the killing was therefore premeditated.
After that CCTV from properties in nearby roads, and roads leading away from New Ash Green were played in court, allegedly showing Lacomba’s car - a red Vauxhall Zafira, sign-written with "All Night Cars" - driving out and away from the village, between 2.13am and 2.20am the night Sarah disappeared. She was aged 46 at the time.
Members of the Search for Sarah Wellgreen group looked on from the public gallery as the footage showed headlights approaching and a vehicle passing locations at Blue Firs, Church Road, Hartley Hill, Pease Hill, and Plaxdale Green Road, where Lacomba’s car is said to be last detected, before it disappeared - not being captured until it returns along the same route two hours later.
Where the car went between that time, only 39-year-old Lacomba, says the prosecution, knows.
“There are different routes you can you could have taken, which we did explore,” added Mr Warton, but no CCTV showing the car in that two hour gap was recovered.
After returning to New Ash Green, Lacomba is alleged to have parked away from his usual parking space, to avoid CCTV, but cameras on property in Bazes Shaw do pick up what they refer to as two ‘events’ - some light reflecting off the surface of a nearby property, at 4.31am, which is thought to be Lacomba’s car returning, followed by a flash of light at 4.52am.
At 4.59 CCTV shows the interior lights at number 22, which had been turned on during Lacomba’s alleged absence by an occupant, who cannot be legally identified, were turned off.
Earlier in the case footage was shown of Lacomba’s and Sarah’s movements during the day - including the moment she returns to her home for the last time before she disappeared.
CCTV from the following day was also played in court, showing mud on Lacomba’s car as he leaves New Ash Green and travels through the Hartley and Hawley areas and on to Dartford.
Footage from the previous day, before Sarah disappeared, show the car was clean, and the prosecution have asked the jury to consider how it might have become dirty overnight, when Lacomba has said he remained at home until the next morning.
Miss Morgan QC asked the jury to view several still images of dirty on Lacomba’s car on the morning of October 10, until an image captured at 10.30am outside All Night Cars in Hive Street, Dartford, where Lacomba went to pay his rent.
CCTV shown to the jury
She added: “By the time the vehicle gets to All Night Cars in Hive Street it appears to have been cleaned.
“You can see the car outside, Mr Lacomba coming in and Mr Lacomba’s shoes.”
Yesterday the jury heard how staff at All Night Cars had seen Lacomba was wearing unusual new shoes that morning, and that he explained he’d lost his normal pair.
Further CCTV evidence came from Greenhithe, allegedly showing Lacomba’s car arrive at a car park, where it is believed he parked up before throwing his phone phone in the river on the night of October October 14, after police had questioned him earlier that day.
Yesterday the jury visited Bazes Shaw.
The trial continues.
KMTV's earlier coverage of the trial