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Beloved delivery driver murdered in brazen van theft, culprit sentenced to life

A MAN has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 32 years for the murder of a beloved delivery driver in Cardiff. Christopher Elgifari stole a van from self-employed family man Mark Lang, who tragically lost his life in the course of his duties.

On the fateful day of March 28, 2023, Mr Lang, a well-respected driver with 15 years of service, was delivering parcels in Laytonia Avenue. Leaving his keys in the ignition for a moment, Elgifari seized the opportunity, jumping into the Renault Trafic van and speeding away. What followed was a harrowing sequence of events that shook the community.

Mr Mark Lang

As Elgifari manoeuvred the stolen van, he recklessly turned back towards Mr Lang, who valiantly stood in the road attempting to thwart the escape. The van collided with the unsuspecting victim, trapping him underneath and dragging him for over 700 metres. Despite the efforts of the public and emergency services, Mr Lang succumbed to his injuries 17 days later.

Elgifari, 31, had denied murder and robbery during the trial at Cardiff Crown Court but was convicted of both charges. The court heard heartbreaking details of Mr Lang’s final moments as he bravely tried to protect his and others’ property in the line of duty.

In a poignant sentencing, Mr Justice Griffiths addressed Elgifari directly, stating, “You murdered him, Christopher Elgifari. You have been convicted after a trial of both murder and robbery.” The judge highlighted the devastating impact on Mr Lang’s family, describing how his death deprived loved ones of a son, partner, father, brother, and grandfather.

The court revealed the chilling details of Elgifari’s actions after the collision. Ignoring Mr Lang’s desperate situation, Elgifari continued to drive the stolen van, reaching speeds of 47mph in a 30mph zone. He displayed a callous disregard for human life, attempting to dislodge the victim from beneath the vehicle and showing no remorse when confronted by witnesses.

In delivering the sentence, Mr Justice Griffiths emphasised the gravity of the crime, stating, “There is only one sentence for murder, and that is imprisonment for life.” The minimum term of 32 years reflects the heinous nature of the act, ensuring that Elgifari remains under scrutiny by the Parole Board for an extended period.

Detective Chief Inspector Matt Powell, from South Wales Police, said: “Today the court has sentenced Christopher El Gifari to life imprisonment where he will serve a minimum term of 32 years for the murder of Mark Lang. “We hope the sentence today can in some way help Mark’s family and friends to move forward. The thoughts of South Wales Police remain with them and of course, Mark.”

At 12.49 pm on March 28, emergency services were called to a report of a single-vehicle collision on North Road in Cathays, Cardiff. Following enquiries, it transpired that the vehicle involved was a delivery van which has been stolen from Laytonia Avenue by Christoper El Gifari.

Delivery driver Mark Lang, who had been delivering parcels, stood in front of his van in an attempt to stop El Gifari but he was driven over and dragged at least 743 metres. Speed cameras on North Road recorded the van travelling at 47mph. The van came to a stop at the junction with New Zealand Road and El Gifari ran from the scene.

Members of the public tried their best to help and comfort Mark, 54, who was critically injured. Despite the best efforts of medical professionals, Mark never regained consciousness and 18 days later died from his injuries.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Rebecca Merchant, from South Wales Police, said: “Mark Lang was a much-loved partner, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend, who sustained fatal injuries while simply doing his job in Cardiff as a delivery man.

“On the afternoon of 28th March 2023, Christopher El Gifari made a conscious decision to steal Mark’s van and then drive it at speed into Mark, causing injuries from which Mark would never recover and changing the life of Mark’s family for ever.

“I recognise that nothing can bring Mark back or put right the events of that day and whilst the outcome today can never compensate Mark’s family for their terrible loss, I do hope it will bring a degree of comfort to all those who love him.

“I would like to pay tribute to the compassion shown by members of the public who tried their best to help and comfort Mark, and to the professionalism of police officers and emergency service colleagues who attended the scene.

“I am grateful to the Gabalfa community for their support during the investigation, in particular by providing CCTV which has been crucial in this case.

“Finally, I wish to thank the team of detectives and police staff who have worked tirelessly on this investigation together with the Crown Prosecution Service and Prosecution Counsel. The efforts of all involved have contributed to today’s outcome. Thank you.”

Family statement issued following conviction on November 23. “The family welcome the Court’s decision today convicting Christopher El Gifari of Mark’s murder.

“We would like to thank the jury, the Police and the CPS for their hard work and support over the last few months and weeks. We would also like to extend thanks to those who helped Mark, from the people who called 999 and held his hand, to the Paramedics who assisted him at the scene and transferred him to Heath Hospital where he received tender and unwavering care from everyone on the critical care team.

“The last few months have been traumatic for us as a family after Mark’s brutal, and ultimately pointless killing. We now have to struggle to face life without him. His partner now faces life alone, his daughters won’t have their dad to walk them down the aisle, his grandchildren will never know their grandad. We will have to live through the memories we know he would have treasured if he were there with us.”