The Kemptown hit and run
When Andy Payne went to work as a meter reader in Brighton on Thursday, January 14, 2016, he never expected it would end with him fighting for his life. Three people have now been sentenced for their actions after Mr Payne was thrown into the air by a speeding car.
The Payne’s world was shaken the day Andy was left for dead on a January day last year and they are thankful everyday that he is still here and able to see the people responsible held accountable.
Andy, has since gone back to work for the same company, but has retrained to be a smart meter engineer and said he has tried his best to get on with life.
“It impossible to put into words the impact that the defendant's dangerous driving has had on my life. After I was hit by the car I was left wondering whether I was dying as everything seemed so unrecognisable," he said.
“Physically I am almost back to how I was before, but emotionally and psychologically I feel I need help to come to terms with it. I still cannot understand, as a human being, how the driver could mow me down, without even braking and drive off leaving me for dead. It is inconceivable. For them to lie to the police and continue to do so is to me unimaginable. Still to this day I don't know how I survived, I feel in my heart that it was not my time to die. I have not yet seen the CCTV footage and get very emotional talking about that day.
“It took many months to build myself up both physically and emotionally, I was afraid to walk short distances and found it difficult to cross roads on my own. I have not felt able to go back to the gym, which I had been going to for 30 years, due to fatigue.
“I am grateful to my family for all their support and help getting me through a very difficult time in my life, and helping me recover from my injuries. I would like to thank the police for their care and incredibly hard work to bring us justice, the hospital staff and the good Samaritans who sat with me and helped me after the incident.”
His wife Lisa, 51, a nurse at a GP surgery in the city didn’t know what had happened to her husband of 28 years until she received a call from her son at about 6pm that day. She rushed to the Royal Sussex County Hospital to be at his bedside, alongside their three children, thinking this could be their last moments with Andy.
She said: “I am grateful every day Andy is still here but there has been a change in him. It has been subtle, not many people would notice but he’s not the same person he was. He suffers with his memory now and is much more cautious about things.”
What happened on January 14, 2016?
Mr Payne, then 53, had been reading meters in the Kemptown area of Brighton, when at 3.40pm he crossed Montague Place from St George’s Terrace. As he did so a white Fiat 500 turned at speed into Montague Place hitting him with such force he was thrown into the air and over the car before landing in the street some metres away.
The Fiat 500 didn’t brake, let alone stop and Mr Payne was left for dead.
Watch the dramatic CCTV footage below.
Miraculously, despite being left with serious head injuries, the father-of-three didn’t break a single bone. Within a week he was out of hospital and able to recover at home, suffering no serious injuries.
An investigation was launched immediately to trace the car and its driver.
A team from the road policing unit, including PC Dave Upjohn and led by Sergeant Dan Pitcher, began to investigate.
The Fiat 500, with significant damage, was driven north along Montague Place, turned into College Street, and was found abandoned in the early hours of the next day in Madehurst Close.
The car had not been reported as stolen and officers paid a visit to the registered owner Robyn Burns, who at that time lived in Donald Hall Road. The 30-year-old told officers the car had been stolen.
Officers initially believed that she had nothing to do with the collision but did suspect her boyfriend, Adam McDermott, to be the driver of the car.
Just over a week after the collision, on January 26, the shocking CCTV from a nearby church and off-licence was released by officers to try and confirm the name for the driver. More than three million people viewed it on Facebook alone and there were 16,000 comments, some naming Adam McDermott.
Information from this directly led police to arrest McDermott at his home that night. He decided to make things hard for himself by hiding on the roof of the flats. Officers had to negotiate with him for hours before he came down. He was then arrested.
Officers began to piece together evidence, including the events of the day to prove McDermott had been driving and Burns knew exactly what had happened to her car.
On January 14, McDermott drove the Fiat 500, for which he wasn’t insured, to take his mother to her hairdressers in Kemptown. He then went to a chemists in St James’s Street to pick up a prescription and it is believed was driving home to Donald Hall Road, with his friend Clark Walker, when he hit Mr Payne. However rather than stopping and helping Mr Payne, he continued to drive the severely damaged car away from the area.
Once he and Walker had abandoned the car in Madehurst Close they tried to set fire to it to burn the evidence and make it look like it had been stolen.
CCTV footage was found of Walker, less than an hour after the collision, at The Premier Bristol Estate convenience store on Donald Hall Road buying lighter fluid. A moped, ridden by McDermott, is seen on the CCTV outside.
After the purchase was made Walker and McDermott are seen to disappear into Beresford Road, which is connected to Madehurst Close by an alleyway. This where the pair tried to set fire to the car.
The lighter fluid was found in the car after the pair unsuccessfully tried to torch it. They just burnt the front seats.
Officers believed Burns encouraged McDermott not to call the police about the collision after he told her what happened that day knowing full well she had allowed him to drive the car. He neither had a licence nor had insurance to drive. The determined team of officers began building up evidence of her perverting the course of justice and arrested her at work in October 2016.
On seizing her phone, they were able to piece together the last year of text messages between the couple which clearly showed Burns allowed McDermott to regularly use the car and he picked her up from work on a daily basis.
She was charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice alongside McDermott who was charged with dangerous driving causing serious injury, conspiring to pervert the course of justice, driving without insurance and no licence.
Walker was also charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
Walker, 32, pleaded guilty to conspiring to pervert the course of justice on January 12, 2017 at Hove Crown Court.
McDermott and Burns both pleaded not guilty and began their trial on October 3 at Lewes Crown Court. However, that same day, they both pleaded guilty to their offences.
On November 28 McDermott was sentenced to four years for dangerous driving causing serious injury and two-and-a-half years for perverting the course of justice to be served consecutively. He has been banned from driving for eight years and will have to sit a re-test.
Walker has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years for perverting the course of justice.
Burns was given 18 months in prison suspended for two years and 160 hours of unpaid work.
Sergeant Dan Pitcher said: “I am delighted all three are now facing punishment for their part in the events from that day. McDermott’s manner of driving and that he didn’t stop, shocked and appalled everyone who saw the CCTV. How Andy is still alive and has no major long lasting physical damage is a miracle. It only comes down to sheer luck that we were not investigating Mr Payne’s death.
“I am so glad Andy is alive to see justice done.
“McDermott and Walker will now face nine years behind bars and Burns, although not spending time in prison, will have her life impacted forever by the decisions she made in trying to help cover up her boyfriend’s actions.”
Disclaimer: This is a story of how detectives investigated the crime, it is not intended as a court report. The material has been released with the Support of Andy Payne and his family.