What you did was cold, callous and cruel. It was utterly wicked'
PUBLISHED: 18:19 04 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:51 23 August 2010
THE 21-year-old man who murdered a Sikh taxi driver by running him over with his own cab has been jailed for life. Luke Aujila, of no fixed abode, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court last Thursday after a jury found him guilty of murdering Gian Chand
THE 21-year-old man who murdered a Sikh taxi driver by running him over with his own cab has been jailed for life.
Luke Aujila, of no fixed abode, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court last Thursday after a jury found him guilty of murdering Gian Chand Bajar, 71, of Darnley Road, Gravesend.
Aujila, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter but was convicted of murder after a three-week trial, was ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years in prison.
The father-of-five was found injured in St Benedict's Avenue in May last year after being run over by his own silver Skoda Octavia taxi. He died later at Darent Valley Hospital.
Sentencing Aujila, who stood with his head bowed in front of a packed courtroom, Judge Andrew Patience said: "What you did was cold, callous and cruel. In short, it was utterly wicked. You were thinking only of yourself.
"Mr Bajar was looked up to and held in the highest esteem by all those who knew him. He was a pillar of the Sikh community, a powerful force for good and his generosity touched lives of countless people.
"He was a rock upon which his family and their values were formed and all those who knew him are devastated by his loss. There is nothing I can do to lessen the anguish and emptiness it has caused."
The court heard how Aujila had been drinking in Northfleet before he got into Mr Bajar's taxi.
He directed him to St Benedict's Avenue where he assaulted him, got into the taxi and drove over his body as he lay on the ground. He then drove the car to a lane behind Dorchester Road and set fire to it.
Judge Patience added: "You were clearly drunk, but not so drunk you didn't know what you were doing. You deliberately punched Mr Bajar, knocked him to the ground where as he lay there you kicked him. In order to get out of the avenue you deliberately drove over his body.
"For this terrible crime there can only be one sentence, and that is a sentence of life imprisonment."
The court told that Aujila had 12 previous offences, including attempted theft of a motor vehicle, shoplifting, driving a motor vehicle with excess alcohol, assaulting a police officer and having an offensive weapon in public.
Outside court, Mr Bajar's oldest son Telu, 35, read a family statement, accompanied by brother Kuldeep, 29, sisters Sundeep, 30, Kulwinder 38, and Sudesh 41.
It said: "We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the CPS, police and especially the investigating team led by Mr Atkinson for their exceptional efforts and hard work to catch and bring to justice the perpetrators involved in our fathers murder.
"Our sincere thanks go out to the local community for whom our late father cared so much, including the taxi drivers and many, many ordinary members of the local community for their support, kind words and best wishes throughout this difficult period.
"Finally, we would like to pay tribute to our dear late father. Many tributes were paid to our father from family, friends and the community alike. The one that described our father best and the one that summed up what many people who met my father came to learn of his generous, loving and honourable nature; 'Most people live their lives and stand tall, your father lived his whole life helping others stand tall.' Every day we remember our dear late loving and caring father husband and grandfather.