Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 15:07 UK

Drunk passenger killed cab driver

Luke Aujila (pic from Kent Police)
Luke Aujila claimed he had not seen Mr Bajar lying in the road

A drunk passenger who ran over and killed a taxi driver with his own cab has been found guilty of murder.

Luke Aujila, 21, argued with Gian Chand Bajar over the cab fare before he drove towards him as he lay hurt in the road in Gravesend, Kent, in May 2007.

Aujila, of Dorchester Road, Gravesend, admitted the manslaughter of the 71-year-old but had denied murder.

A Maidstone Crown Court jury found him guilty after deliberating for 13 hours. He will be sentenced on Thursday.

Mr Bajar's family could be heard to give sighs of relief when the verdict was announced.

A statement from the family said: "We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the police and investigating team for their exceptional efforts and hard work to catch the perpetrator involved in our father's murder."

They also thanked the community and taxi drivers in Gravesend for their support.

Burnt out

During the three-week trial the court was told Aujila made no effort to slow down or avoid Mr Bajar after getting behind the wheel of the silver Skoda Octavia in St Benedict's Avenue.

After the killing, Aujila drove the car to a service road where it was later found abandoned and burnt out.

Blood was found on his trainers and tracksuit bottoms and a broken Bacardi bottle which he had earlier stolen was found with his fingerprints on it at the scene.

Mr Bajar, a self-employed taxi driver, was described as a respected member of the local Sikh community and the sort of person who would avoid conflict.

After being run over he had been tended to by nearby residents but the father-of-five died in hospital later the same night from injuries to his head consistent with being run over by a car.

Gian Chand Bajar (picture from Kent Police)
Gian Chand Bajar died in hospital from his injuries

The court was told that Aujila became drunk after returning home from the first day of a work course in Dartford.

His behaviour was said to have become aggressive after he stole the Bacardi and drank it.

He threatened a man on an industrial estate then visited a couple he knew in York Road, who said he had been drinking heavily, before meeting a woman he vaguely knew and asking her for sex.

Later in the evening Aujila was involved in a disturbance in Tooley Street and it was from there that he was picked up by Mr Bajar at 2200 BST who drove him to St Benedict's Avenue, the scene of the killing.

Aujila was arrested the next day but made a statement denying any knowledge of Mr Bajar's death.

But in December 2007, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denied murder saying there was no murderous intent.

He claimed he had been so drunk he did not see Mr Bajar lying on the ground, but the prosecution said his actions were deliberate.

Forensic pathologist Dr David Rouse said Mr Bajar suffered 39 separate sites of injury, including fractures to his pelvis, ribs, and a broken leg and hip.


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