A taxi driver accused of killing the mother of his children and dumping her body has been convicted of her murder.
Ben Lacomba was the number one suspect when his ex-partner Sarah Wellgreen disappeared in October 2018.
Lacomba, 39, of New Ash Green, Kent, was convicted of murdering the mother of five following a trial at Woolwich Crown Court.
Despite extensive searches, the body of the 46-year-old beautician has never been found.
The jury heard Lacomba killed Ms Wellgreen, with whom he had three children, in a “calculated manner designed to avoid detection, to leave no trace”.
By the time of her disappearance, on 9 October 2018, their relationship was marked by “tensions and problems” and he decided to take drastic action when she looked to buy him out of the house where they both lived, despite having separated in 2014.
Kent Police sifted through 15,000 hours of CCTV to help convict Lacomba, who met Ms Wellgreen online in 2004.
Footage shown to the court placed Lacomba in his red Vauxhall Zafira driving at about 02:00 BST on 10 October 2018.
It was during this window, prosecutors said, that he dumped Ms Wellgreen’s body.
Paul Simpson, deputy chief prosecutor, said: “He clearly thought he wouldn’t be caught on CCTV because he took a dark country lane.
“That didn’t prove to be the case and it was that evidence that allowed us to say ‘you lied about your whereabouts. You weren’t at home in bed, you were killing Sarah Wellgreen in a rural part of Kent’.
“He knew in a short amount of time he would be left homeless and without day-to-day contact with his children and that is clearly something he couldn’t live with so he made the decision to kill her.”
During the trial, Lacomba claimed a 1.66m (5ft 5in) shovel he bought was a gift for his mother.
It was also revealed he stayed silent through nine hours of police questioning and threw two mobile phones into a river. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Detectives began to suspect Lacomba early on, stating he had the motive to “dispose” of Ms Wellgreen for his own gain.
Det Ch Insp Ivan Beasley, of Kent Police, said: “We became suspicious of his accounts, his behaviour and then the fact that he refused to give us information and we found he disposed of his mobile phone.
“That was the trigger for me. I believed he was responsible for what happened to Sarah.”
He added: “There are children out there without a mother. There is a wider family without their daughter and sister. There are friends out there missing Sarah.”
Friends and family members have vowed to continue the search for the missing mother.
Sharon Brine, one of those behind the Sarah Wellgreen Trust search party, said: “We have not stopped searching. We are still determined to find Sarah.
“Every day we think ‘this is the day’. How could we stop? Tomorrow’s search might have been the one.
“We are going to find her. We need to find Sarah.”