Kent

Sarah Wellgreen murder trial: Accused 'made mistake' dumping phones

Ben Lacomba Image copyright JIM BENNETT
Image caption Ben Lacomba denies murdering Sarah Wellgreen at their home and then disposing of her body

A man accused of killing his ex-partner said it was a "massive mistake" to throw his phones into the River Thames.

Taxi driver Ben Lacomba is charged with murdering 46-year-old Sarah Wellgreen, who vanished in October last year.

Giving evidence at his Woolwich Crown Court trial, he said he had received "nasty messages" from her over the custody of their three children.

Mr Lacomba denies murdering Ms Wellgreen at their home in New Ash Green and then disposing of her body.

Five days after the mother-of-five disappeared from her Kent home, police asked to take Mr Lacomba's phone to download the data on it.

He originally signed the consent form but did not agree deleted information could be retrieved, jurors heard.

Mr Lacomba told the court he had received "nasty" messages from Ms Wellgreen while going through an acrimonious court battle and had composed "just as nasty" messages back.

However, he said rather than sending them he had deleted them when he calmed down.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Sarah Wellgreen disappeared from her Kent home in October last year

Mr Lacomba told the jury he did not trust the police not to download the deleted messages, despite him not giving them his consent to do so.

"All these thoughts were rushing through my head," he said, adding that after retrieving the items from the police he then drove to Greenhithe and threw his two phones in the river.

He told jurors: "I was stupid. I made a mistake. A massive mistake.

"I should have just given police my phones and they could have downloaded everything. I might not be standing here today."

'There in minutes'

During cross-examination, Mr Lacomba said he had done all in his power to help police find Ms Wellgreen and said he had stayed silent during nine hours of questioning on the advice of his solicitor.

He said he did not know where she was and said he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC told Mr Lacomba the police were in court and a team was on standby 24/7.

She said: "You just have to point to where Sarah's body is and they'll be there in minutes. Are you going to do that?"

Mr Lacomba replied: "I do not know where she is."

The trial continues.

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