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Courier murdered by van thief, jury told

15 Nov 2023 5 minute read
Photo Peter Byrne. PA Images

A courier was murdered after he was run over in Cardiff by a thief who had stolen his van, a court heard.

Mark Lang, 54, suffered fatal injuries as he was dragged hundreds of metres by his vehicle after trying to stop Christopher Elgifari, 31, getting away.

Prosecutors alleged Elgifari drove deliberately at Mr Lang because CCTV footage from neighbouring properties captured the incident unfold on March 28 this year in Laytonia Avenue, Cardiff.

David Elias KC, prosecuting, told Cardiff Crown Court: “At about 12.40pm, he parked on Laytonia Avenue to deliver a parcel.

“He was only going to be a few seconds, so he left his van unlocked with the keys in the ignition.

“As he stood at the door of the house to deliver, this defendant ran to the van and jumped in.

“He drove off at speed down Laytonia Avenue chased by Mark Lang. The avenue, unfortunately, is a dead end.

“The defendant driving the van turned around at the end, colliding with a garden wall, before driving back towards Mark Lang.

“As Mr Lang stood in the middle of the road in his high-vis jacket, waving his arms, the defendant ran him down without deviating.

“Mr Lang was struck by the middle of the bonnet. He disappeared under the van. The defendant carried on driving without a thought for his victim.

“He drove onto North Road towards the city centre at speed for over 700 metres with Mr Lang’s body trapped under the vehicle.”

North Road

Mr Elias said the van became stuck on the junction of North Road and New Zealand Road and Elgifari ran off – leaving Mr Lang trapped underneath.

Members of the public alerted the emergency services and Mr Lang was removed from underneath the van and taken to the University Hospital of Wales.

Mr Lang, of Cyncoed, had suffered head and crush injuries and died on April 15 having never regained consciousness.

“The prosecution say, this defendant is responsible for the cowardly killing of Mark Lang – a hardworking man simply trying to protect his and others property in the course of his job,” Mr Elias said.

“We say, members of the jury, this defendant is guilty of robbing Mr Lang of the van and its contents and of Mr Lang’s murder.”

The incident was captured on nearby CCTV cameras and shows Mr Lang stopping at the side of the road in Laytonia Avenue to make his delivery and the defendant stealing the van and driving off.

“The van was heard by neighbours travelling down the street with the engine revving hard,” the prosecutor said.

“You will see CCTV footage showing the van approaching Mr Lang. Mr Lang is standing in the middle of the road in an effort to make the van stop.

“He would have been visible to the defendant from the moment he had turned and began to drive back up the street.

“It was a straight road and there was nothing to obstruct the defendant’s view.

“The moment of impact is caught on CCTV – the van does not deviate. Mr Lang was front on to the vehicle facing the driver when he was struck.

“Only the length of the bonnet separated the defendant and his victim.

“When the van ploughed into Mr Lang the defendant, Christopher Elgifari, must have been looking right at him.

“The impact occurred between Mr Lang and the centre of the bonnet.

“This was not a glancing blow. Mr Lang disappeared under the bow. He was not thrown off to one side or the other.”

High-vis jacket

The court heard Mr Lang, whose high-vis jacket was visible from underneath the van, was dragged at least 743 metres as the defendant sped away reaching speeds of 47mph in a 30mph zone – activating a speed camera.

Elgifari fled the scene and was arrested the following day at his parents’ home, telling officers: “I don’t know what you are on about.”

In interview, he gave a prepared statement stating he did not mean to hit Mr Lang and had attempted to drive around him.

Elgifari, of Cwrt y Esgydd, Aberdare, has denied murder and robbery but admits manslaughter and theft.

Mr Elias told the jury: “Christopher Elgifari has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and in doing so he accepts unlawfully killing Mark Lang by driving the van at him to frighten him.

“The prosecution says, on the evidence that you will hear Mr Elgifari drove the van at Mark Lang and when he did, so he had a choice.

“Once he had turned that van around and saw Mark Lang in the road, the prosecution say, he deliberately drove at him and at the last moment decided to run him over.

“He didn’t care what happened to Mark Lang and the prosecution say when he made that final decision he must have intended to at least cause some really serious injury to his victim and we say he is guilty of Mark Lang’s murder.”

The trial continues.

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