Van thief who murdered delivery driver jailed for life

todayDecember 1, 2023 3

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Van thief who murdered delivery driver jailed for life

A van thief who murdered a delivery driver has been sentenced to life in prison.

Christopher El Gifari will serve a minimum term of 32 years.

A jury at Cardiff Crown Court last week found the 31-year-old guilty of murder and robbery.

On Friday, he was also sentenced to 10 years for robbery which he will serve concurrently with his life sentence for murder.

Mark Lang, 54, was fatally injured after he was dragged by his own vehicle as it was stolen.

Mr Lang had left his van on Laytonia Avenue in the city to deliver a parcel on 28 March.

The courier was fatally injured when he tried to stop El Gifari from getting away.

Handing down his sentence, Mr Justice Griffiths said El Gifari had taken “a son away from his mother” and “bereaved his partner of 23 years”.

“You deprived his two daughters of their father, a sister of her brother, and his partner’s children of their father figure,” he added.

Mr Lang was “well-known and well-liked as a driver who had for 15 years been delivering parcels to Cardiff residents,” Mr Justice Griffiths said.

“You were determined to drive over Mr Lang and get away with his van contents, come what may.”

Mark Lang died in the early hours of Sunday morning

Mark Lang

By the time the vehicle came to a stop on New Zealand Road, El Gifari had driven “a total of 743 metres since first hitting Mr Lang”.

“All that time, he was being battered and suffocated, sustaining horrible and painful injuries, as his body was dragged under the front of the van and between the front wheels,” he said.

“The pressure on his body was so great, that his hi-vis jacket ground visible yellow marks into the road.”

A passer-by spoke to El Gifari through the window and pointed to Mr Lang’s body underneath him.

“You gave no sign of being surprised Mr Lang’s body was there, or of caring about Mr Lang at all,” Mr Justice Griffiths said.

“All you wanted was to get away with what you had done. So you jumped out of the van and ran away, as fast as you could.”

Mr Justice Griffiths said El Gifari “did not care whether Mr Lang lived or died as along as [he] got away”.

The trial heard Mr Lang, from the Cyncoed area, had suffered head injuries and was taken to the University Hospital of Wales where he died on 15 April.

Prosecuting, David Elias KC, said Mr Lang had been “performing a public-facing service as a delivery driver” at the time of the incident.

The court heard a victim impact statement from Mr Lang’s partner, Caroline, who said most of his family now “cannot drive along North Road as it is too upsetting”.

She said her “whole world was turned upside down” and she had felt “a whole rollercoaster of emotions”.

“Having to relive all of this through the trial has been really difficult,” she added.

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In mitigation, Mark Graffius KC, said El Gifari had used the van “to escape, without premeditation and without an intention to kill”.

The court heard he “broke his leg very badly in 2022”, was “laid off work” and his relationship broke down.

“A succession of truly unfortunate incidents have led him to the point where he’s homeless with little or no income,” Mr Graffius said.

The offence was described by the mitigating lawyer as “opportunistic”. He said El Gifari had seen a “chance to sell the contents of the van for money”.

Written by: Newsroom

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