Andrew Payne is lucky to be alive. He was mowed down by a speeding Fiat-500 driving on the wrong side of the road in Brighton last January. CCTV footage captured the horrific moment the 54-year-old father was thrown into the air, then left for dead.
The driver, builder Adam McDermott, fled the scene in the car that belonged to his then-fiancée. Payne suffered life-threatening injuries, but amazingly survived.
McDermott set the car on fire and went on the run. The 33-year-old did not evade the law for long – he was jailed on Tuesday for six-and-a-half years for the callous hit and run.
McDermott previously pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, driving without a licence or insurance, and perverting the course of justice. He was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court despite refusing to attend the hearing. He was already in custody over another offence.
Judge Charles Kemp, who addressed McDermott as if he had attended court, said: “It is your dangerous driving which had life-changing effects on Mr Payne and his immediate family. We heard in his victim impact statement his sheer disbelief that a human being could do that and then callously drive off, leaving him as if for dead.”
Payne was treated by paramedics at the scene before being rushed to hospital, and somehow managed to come out of the crash with nothing more serious than memory loss. A former manager at a pens company, he has now been retrained as a meter-reader for a utility company.
Last month, Sussex Police Sgt Dan Pitcher said it is a miracle Payne is alive and did not suffer any more serious long-term impairments.
“McDermott’s actions that day were awful, he drove without regard for anyone’s life and when he hit Mr Payne, he didn’t even stop. He would have known how hard he hit him and he didn’t even brake. For all he knew, Mr Payne was dead,” Pitcher said.
“Thankfully this investigation has not been into Mr Payne’s death; this only comes down to luck.”
McDermott’s former partner Robyn Burns, 30, and Clark Walker, 32, were also charged in relation to the shocking hit and run.
Burns pleaded guilty to conspiring with Adam McDermott to pervert the cause of justice, and Walker pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice with Adam McDermott. Sgt Dan Pitcher said the duo are facing a significant punishment for their involvement in the crime.
“Burns and Walker conspired with McDermott to cover up his actions and claim the car had been stolen,” Pitcher said. “Burns has already been charged and sentenced for insurance fraud for the car, having been given 80 hours community service. She now faces a much more severe punishment for perverting the course of justice.”