Taxi driver accused of killing Sarah Wellgreen tells court shovel found in shed ...

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Ben Lacomba told Woolwich Crown Court he bought the shovel as a Christmas gift for his mother in 2017

Ben Lacomba told Woolwich Crown Court he bought the shovel as a Christmas gift for his mother in 2017

The taxi driver accused of murdering Sarah Wellgreen told a court a 'gravedigger's shovel' found in his shed during police searches was a Christmas gift for his mother.

Measuring 5ft 5in in length, the gardening tool appeared new and the blade was lightly covered in soil.

A jury at Woolwich Crown Court in South East London has been told that the back garden at the New Ash Green home shared by the 46-year-old and her ex-partner Ben Lacomba consisted of artificial grass, paving stones and decking.

But the 39-year-old told the court he bought the shovel as a Christmas gift for his mother in 2017 as she planned to dig flower beds in his front lawn at Bazes Shaw.

Lacomba is alleged to have killed the mother of five on the night of October 9 last year and then headed out in his taxi in the early hours to dispose of her body.

Lacomba claims he was in bed asleep all night, waking at 7am on October 10 to find her gone.

But it was during the second day of cross-examination by the prosecution that his account of buying a shovel for his mother, Marilyn Lacomba, who is in her 60s and suffers from the pain condition fibromyalgia, was dismissed as 'complete nonsense'.

Ben Lacomba (pictured) is accused of murdering his ex Sarah Wellgreen after she got a new job

Ben Lacomba is accused of murdering his ex Sarah Wellgreen (pictured) after she got a new job

Ben Lacomba (left, pictured in November 2018) is accused of murdering Ms Wellgreen (right)

Having been handed what Alison Morgan QC described as the 'gravedigger's shovel' to hold as he gave evidence, she asked Lacomba: 'Feel the weight. Are you seriously saying you thought that was appropriate for your elderly mother?

'So she gets a gift of a shovel and the gift of hard labour in your garden...what did she do with it in your front garden?'

Lacomba replied: 'I think she might have used it to do the digging where bricks were laid in the ground but I don't think she used it that often.'

But Miss Morgan responded: 'This is complete nonsense, isn't it Mr Lacomba? Complete nonsense that the shovel was a gift for your elderly mother.

Detectives searched for thousands of man hours for Ms Wellgreen's body after she went missing in New Ash Green, Kent, last October - but it has never been found

Detectives searched for thousands of man hours for Ms Wellgreen's body after she went missing in New Ash Green, Kent, last October - but it has never been found

'And the reason why you have made that up is because you don't have a sensible explanation why you have a shovel of that size in your shed.'

Lacomba simply replied 'No it's not'.

He added he bought it in either a branch of B&Q or Wickes in Dartford 'with his mother in mind', thinking it would give her 'better leverage' when digging.

During cross-examination he was also repeatedly asked where he had buried Sarah, and to point her grave out on a map of potential search locations identified by police.

But he said: 'What you have seen and heard doesn't look good for me but I'm letting the jury know and everyone in this court that I have not murdered the mother of my children, Sarah Wellgreen.'

Lacomba was also asked by the

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