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Killer jailed for taxi driver's murder

Convicted: Luke Aujila
Convicted: Luke Aujila

KILLER Luke Aujila was jailed for 20 years this morning for the murder of Gravesend taxi driver Gian Chand Bajar.

Mr Bajar's family were at Maidstone Crown Court to witness sentence passed on the 21-year-old who mercilessly mowed down the 71-year-old with his own cab.

A statement from the family issued after sentencing by Judge Andrew Patience QC at Maidstone Crown Court thanked the team involved in the investigation and conviction - and paid tribute to the 'loving and caring father, husband and grandfather'.

The statement read: "Our sincere thanks go out to the local community to 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.

"In addition we would like to thank the jury and Judge Patience for their hard work in ensuring that justice was served.

"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 sums up what many people who met my father came to learn of his generous, loving and honorable nature was 'Most people live their lives and stand tall: your father lived his whole life helping others stand tall.'"

Aujila, of no fixed address, will have to serve 18 years and 363 days before being considered for parole.

He stood impassively in the dock when the jury returned a guilty verdict on a 10-2 majority after more than 13 agonising hours' deliberation on Wednesday.

Mr Bajar died from his injuries after being run over by his own car in St Benedict's Avenue, Gravesend after a drunken Aujila, who had denied murder but admitted manslaughter, argued over the fare, Maidstone Crown Court heard.

Aujila's mum Annette, 42, and brother Thomas, 25, were both in court to witness the verdict which was brought in just before 1pm Wednesday, and greeted with astonished gasps from the public gallery.

The pair, of Dorchester Road, Gravesend and Gordon Road, Northfleet respectively, are both due to be sentenced on Friday for perverting the course of justice.

Aujila had insisted Gian Chand Bajar's death was an accident and that he had little recollection of the fateful night in May last year.

Mr Bajar, of Darnley Road, Gravesend, had been working for the then named Millennium Taxis. As a result of his death, additional security measures including CCTV in cabs, were instigated.

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