A thief who murdered a delivery driver by running him over with his stolen van was today jailed for life and ordered to spend a minimum of 32 years in prison.
Mark Lang, 54, suffered fatal injuries when he was dragged hundreds of metres by his vehicle while trying to stop Christopher Elgifari, 31, from getting away.
Cardiff Crown Court was told Mr Lang, of Cyncoed, had parked in Laytonia Avenue in the Cathays area of Cardiff at about 12.40pm on March 28 this year.
The father-of-two was stood at the door of a house to deliver a parcel when Elgifari jumped in the van, which had been left unlocked with the key in the ignition.
Elgifari drove off at speed and turned the van around at the end of the street, hitting a garden wall, before driving back and hitting Mr Lang, who was in the middle of the road.
Christopher Elgifari, of Cwrt y Esgydd, Aberdare, was today jailed for a minimum of 32 years
Mark Lang was taken to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, where he died on April 15 after the incident
He drove the van for more than 700 metres with Mr Lang trapped under the van, which got stuck and stopped at the junction of North Road and New Zealand Road.
Members of the public alerted the emergency services and comforted Mr Lang, who was taken to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. He died there, surrounded by his family, on April 15.
Elgifari, of Aberdare, admitted manslaughter and theft but was convicted of murder and robbery by a jury in a unanimous verdict at Cardiff Crown Court last week.
Mr Justice Griffiths jailed Elgifari for life and ordered him to serve a minimum of 32 years in prison.
The judge told him: ‘Mark Lang was well-known and well-liked as a delivery driver, who had for 15 years been delivering parcels to local residents.
‘You murdered him. He was only 54. You took a son away from his mother. You 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 will never see future grandchildren. He will not enjoy retirement. The taking of a life is a terrible thing, not only because of the life that is cut short but because of all the other lives that are damaged as well.’
CCTV showed Mr Lang stopping his van at the side of the road to make his delivery, with Elgifari then stealing the van, with £4,200 of parcels in the back, and driving off.
CCTV footage, which was shown to the court during the trial, captured the moment when Elgifari jumped into the van and the events that followed it
During the trial, Elgifari (pictured) did not give evidence. He instead gave a prepared statement to officers declaring he did not mean to hit Mr Lang
Elgifari turned the van around and drove at Mr Lang, who was stood in the middle of the road wearing a high-visibility jacket.
The judge told the defendant: ‘You drove directly at him as fast as you possibly could. You could see that he was in the centre of your path but you did not deviate by so much as an inch as you hit him.
‘You were determined to drive over Mr Lang and get away with his van and contents, come what may.’
Mr Lang was initially pinned to the bonnet before sliding down under the van, getting stuck under the two-tonne vehicle.
He was dragged for 743 metres as Elgifari wove between lanes and undertook another car – triggering a speed camera as he reached 47mph in a 30mph zone.
Elgifari was arrested the next day and told officers he did not mean to hit Mr Lang.
Elgifari was arrested the next day and told officers he did not mean to hit Mr Lang
The judge told him: ‘Mark Lang was performing a public service as a delivery driver when you killed him. You used the van as a weapon.
‘Both the mental and physical suffering Mr Lang experienced as he realised he was trapped under the van, and then as he was dragged along before losing consciousness, were particularly severe.
‘You did not care whether Mr Lang lived or died as long as you got away.
‘By driving at him as fast as you could, and accelerating away along North Road when you had every reason to know he was trapped under the van, you demonstrated a complete disregard for his life.’
Prosecuting, David Elias KC, read a statement from Mr Lang’s partner, Caroline Bergelin.
It said: ‘Mark was very much a family man and his loss has devastated us all. He really was my soulmate. I feel like I have lost half of myself.
‘Mark worked so hard throughout his life. The years when he should have been able to relax and enjoy himself have been snatched away from him.
‘Neither of his daughters will now have their Dad to walk them down the aisle. We know that he would have been an amazing Granddad.’
Evri courier Mr Lang briefly left his van unlocked as he dashed to make a delivery on Laytonia Avenue, Cardiff on March 28 this year
Ms Bergelin said her ‘world was turned upside down’ when she was told of what had happened, with the family spending every day at hospital with Mr Lang until his death.
Mitigating, Mark Graffius KC said his client’s background could be described as ‘unhappy and troubled’.
‘By this offence, he describes himself as homeless, hopeless, alienated from his family with no money and a need to find prescription pills on the street,’ Mr Graffius said.
He said Elgifari, who has 26 previous convictions including dishonesty, dangerous driving, possessing and supplying drugs, has expressed ‘remorse’ for what happened.