A TAXI driver accused of murdering his missing ex-partner today revealed to a jury he panicked and threw his phones in a river
Ben Lacomba, 39, said he was “winding himself up” that he could be a suspect in the disappearance of mum-of-five Sarah Wellgreen, 46, when he decided to dump the devices.
The beautician was last seen alive on CCTV as she returned from work to the home they shared in New Ash Green, Kent, just before 8pm on October 9 last year.
Lacomba allegedly murdered Sarah “in a calculated manner” that night before dumping her body “to avoid detection” under cover of darkness in the early hours.
Prosecutors told the court Sarah was in the process of buying him out of their four-bedroom home, which would have resulted in him having limited contact with his children.
A jury at London’s Woolwich Crown Court heard that he agreed to hand over his Samsung Galaxy S8to cops as part of their initial “missing person” investigation.
But as a family liaison officer was leaving his home with the handset on the evening of October 14, he asked for it back – and later that night dumped it together with a second phone in the River Thames.
He admitted in court his smartphone contained “nasty” messages he had written to Sarah but never sent.
He told the jury: “I remember pulling over and just sitting there and chewing things over and over in my mind the events of the last few days and the possible consequences.
“Sarah had been missing for quite a few days by then, I was worried about what had happened to her.
“That started chewing over in my mind. I just started panicking that something bad had happened to Sarah, could the police be looking at me, where they looking already looking at me.
“I had tried to do everything possible since Sarah, since the Tuesday when I last saw her, to help the police and be as honest and open as possible, let them into my home, my family, look at everything in my home, search wherever they wanted.
“And I thought was that putting myself at risk somehow. I was panicking and winding myself up more and more and so I thought ‘Do you know what? I’m just going to throw these in the river’.”
And I thought was that putting myself at risk somehow. I was panicking and winding myself up more and more and so I thought ‘Do you know what? I’m just going to throw these in the river’.
The court heard Lacomba drove to Serenity Court where he was captured on camera arriving in his Vauxhall Zafira taxi just before 11.20pm and then walking between his car and the river.
He said he was “probably having doubts” over whether or not to throw them in the water before actually doing so, having removed the SIM cards and “snapping” the phones on a wall.
Asked by his barrister Rebecca Trowler QC how he now viewed his action that night, Lacomba added: “I was stupid. I made a mistake, a massive mistake.
“Now I’m not tired and panicking, I should have just given police my phones. They could have downloaded everything and I might not be sitting here today.”
Lacomba denies murder, claiming he was in bed asleep during the night his former partner of 10 years disappeared, only to wake the next morning at 7am to find her gone.
Lacomba said he was later shocked when his boss at All Night Cars in Dartford told him the police thought he had “killed Sarah, buried her and dumped her”.
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He was first arrested and interviewed for over six hours on October 16 before being released on bail three days later
He was then re-arrested two months later and interviewed for a further three hours before being charged.
The trial continues.
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