A MISSING mum-of-five was murdered by her taxi driver ex who smuggled her body out their house during the night after switching off CCTV, a court heard.
Sarah Wellgreen, 46, was living a “happy life” and had just landed a new job when it is alleged her ex-lover Ben Lacomba killed her and then disposed of her body last year.
The pair were still living together but were involved in a bitter custody battle for their child and Sarah was in the process of buying Lacomba out of the family home in the leafy village of New Ash Green, Kent, when she vanished.
On the night she 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.
Prosecutor Alison Morgan told the court: “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 was also captured of what appears to be a distinctive 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.”
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.
Prosecutor Alison Morgan
The former partners, despite living together, had a fractious relationship and were locked in a custody battle, the court heard.
Text messages read out from Sarah to her on/off boyfriend Neil James heard her call Lacomba a “fat twat” on the night of her apparent death.
She may have told Lacomba about her promotion – meaning she would have been able to move out and take her kids with her, the court heard.
Ms Morgan said: “Whilst it may never be possible to know what ran through the defendant’s mind when he decided to kill Sarah Wellgreen, it appears that potential loss of property and his children motivated his actions.”
Jurors at Woolwich Crown Court heard that just hours before she disappeared in October last year she sent a text to pal Joe Eleini and made plans to meet up on October 16.
She wrote: “There is always something to look forward to, you just need to open your eyes a bit more and dream.”
But despite living under the same roof Sarah and Lacomba, a 39-year-old taxi driver, led separate lives and there was “tension and problems” between them.
It is alleged he murdered her “in a calculated manner”, and may have been motivated by the potential loss of his property and his children.
Sarah was last seen alive on the evening of October 9 last year and was missing from her home by the following morning.
Extensive searches have been carried out but her body has never been found.
At the start of the prosecution opening, Miss 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.
There is always something to look forward to, you just need to open your eyes a bit more and dream
“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.”
Miss Morgan told the court only Lacomba, who denies murder, knew the “precise details” of what happened.
She added: “The prosecution alleges that the defendant 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.”
Describing her final text at 10pm that night, Miss Morgan added: “She was obviously in good spirits and making plans for the immediate future.
“Her words suggested that she was optimistic and encouraging others to be as well.”
She also described that her new job had “lifted a huge weight” and is said to have referred to Lacomba as “a fat t**t”.
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 and Lacomba started working as a taxi driver in 2008.
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At the time Sarah was allegedly murdered, he was driving a distinctive red Vauxhall Zafira with the name of the taxi firm All Night Cars written on the side.
Miss Morgan told the jury this vehicle would provide “significant” evidence in the trial.
The couple split in 2014 but Sarah, who formed a new relationship, continued to live with Lacomba.
In 2016 Sarah met Neil James online and she moved into his home in Farnham, Surrey.
The trial continues.
Mum-of-five Sarah Wellgreen was reported missing on October 11, 2018[/caption]
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