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Sarah Wellgreen murder trial: Ben Lacomba was 'panicky' after ex went missing from New Ash Green home

The man accused of murdering missing mum-of-five Sarah Wellgreen appeared panicky and knew the police were after him when he met up with his employer a week after she disappeared.

Woolwich Crown Court heard Ben Lacomba had called Nicholas Morris, the owner of All Night Cars in Dartford, on October 16, and the pair met in the Coffee Pot cafe next to the taxi office to talk about events of the previous week.

Ben Lacomba denies the murder of Sarah Wellgreen
Ben Lacomba denies the murder of Sarah Wellgreen

Mr Morris said Lacomba was eating a big breakfast and the cafe was busy so they’d moved tables to find a suitable spot, where he told Lacomba the police were after him.

“Ben asked if the police had been to the office,” he recounted in a statement. “I said they had been and they were due to be in again.

“Ben said sorry for any problems it was causing for the business.

“I said to Ben they clearly think it’s you.

"Ben said ‘yeah, they clearly do.’

Ben Lacomba. Picture: Jim Bennett
Ben Lacomba. Picture: Jim Bennett

“Ben said he had gone to bed the night of October 9 and when he woke up she was gone and I haven’t seen her since.

“I asked Ben if he had notified licensing and I said he probably should.

“Ben was quite tense when we were talking. He had a panicky look on his face but looked like he was trying to keep calm. He did not seem overly worried or concerned that his ex partner had gone missing. The reason I say this is because all Ben said about her was ‘I woke up and she was gone and I haven’t seen her since.’

“It was like he was brushing over it and was more worried about the police being involved and coming to the office.”

The taxi office also became a focal point of the police investigation when CCTV footage emerged of Lacomba visiting there the morning after 46-year-old Sarah is believed to have been killed.

Ben Lacomba denies murder. Picture: Jim Bennett
Ben Lacomba denies murder. Picture: Jim Bennett

The footage, played today in court, shows Lacomba entering the office and chatting with colleagues when they notice his unusual new shoes.

“Where on earth did you get those shoes from?” a colleague can be heard asking.

Lacombato them being bought a years ago and that he’d lost his usual ones.

“How on earth can you lose a pair of shoes?” asks the colleague. “You tell me”, replied Lacomba.

Another colleague, Charlie Carter, gave a statement to police, recalling how he’d noticed Lacomba was wearing a pair of “battle-ship grey, horrible pointy shoes”, adding: “they looked diabolical as they did not match his clothes.” He said he’d never seen Ben wearing those shoes before and that he usually dressed smartly in matching clothes.

Sarah Wellgreen was last seen on Tuesday, October 9, in the Bazes Shaw area of New Ash Green
Sarah Wellgreen was last seen on Tuesday, October 9, in the Bazes Shaw area of New Ash Green

Read more from the trial:

Earlier in the trial CCTV had shown Lacomba’s car clean the night before Sarah went missing but dirty the next day - while further CCTV appeared to show Lacomba’s car travelling down country lanes that night, away from New Ash Green, before returning in the early hours - contradicting Lacomba’s assertion he was in bed all night.

The jury also today heard evidence from neighbour Jay Ellis who recalled how Lacomba had come round to his house to check coverage of CCTV.

The prosecution allege Lacomba was checking the CCTV as part of planning to avoid detection on the night Sarah disappeared.

Missing Sarah Wellgreen
Missing Sarah Wellgreen

“Around May 2018 Ben Lacomba attended my house and asked to look at my camera coverage from the view of my TV.

“He just wanted to know the coverage of my camera at the front of the house.

“I can’t recall the exact date but I recall it was hot weather as Ben had his top off.

“There was a previous occasion about a year ago that Ben Lacomba attended the house and looked at the camera angle at the front of my house. On each occasion I had no problem with Mr Lacomba looking at the camera angle and coverage as he had accommodated my request to look at his.”

Detective Constable James Greenidge gave evidence regarding proof of life searches - which had shown no evidence of any activity on any bank, email, or social media account connected with her. Her passport had not been used and there was no evidence of her being alive since the day she was last seen on October 2018.

Lacomba denies murder.The trial continues.

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