Page last updated at 13:59 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 14:59 UK

Taxi driver murderer given life

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

A man who killed a taxi driver by mowing him down with his own vehicle has been jailed for life.

A jury at Maidstone Crown Court found Luke Aujila, 21, of Dorchester Road, Gravesend, Kent, guilty of murdering Gian Chand Bajar.

Judge Andrew Patience sentenced him to life with a minimum of 20 years for killing the 71-year-old in Gravesend on 23 May, 2007.

As he sentenced Aujila, he described what he had done as "utterly wicked".

Aujila had admitted manslaughter but denied murder claiming he was so drunk he did not see Mr Bajar in the road.

But the Judge said Aujila had never intended to pay for his cab journey.

He had deliberately punched Mr Bajar before kicking him as he lay on the ground and then driving over him.

'Terrible case'

"What you did was cold, callous and cruel. In short it was utterly wicked," he said.

Mr Bajar's age and vulnerability meant the sentence reflected the gravity of the "terrible case", he said.

Aujila had 12 previous convictions, including assaulting a number of police officers and attempted theft of a vehicle.

Outside court Mr Bajar's son, Telu, said: "I think we are satisfied that justice has been served."

Chief Supt Gary Beautridge, area commander for north Kent, said: "The murder of Mr Bajar was a truly shocking crime that affected everyone who had respected and admired such a truly outstanding member of our local community."

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

He added as a result of the case a scheme to have CCTV fitted in all taxis in Gravesend was well under way, with the devices due to be installed by the end of August.

During the three-week trial, the court had heard that on the night of the attack Aujila's became aggressive after drinking a stolen bottle of Bacardi.

Mr Bajar picked him up in Tooley Street, Gravesend, at about 2200 BST but a row later broke out about the fare.

Aujila climbed behind the wheel of Mr Bajar's Skoda Octavia, making no no effort to slow down or avoid the father-of-five as he lay hurt in the road.

The car was later found abandoned and burnt out and blood was found on Aujila's trainers and tracksuit bottoms.

Neighbours in the street had tried to save Mr Bajar, described as a respected member of the Sikh community, but he died later that night from severe head injuries.


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