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An insult: Hit and run victim slams 16-month jail term for dangerous driver
A hit and run victim has branded the 16-month jail term handed to the offender as an insult.
Michelle Greest was mown down on Brighton seafront by Christopher Chan in the early hours of July 15.
He was in a stolen car in the middle of a crime spree and left her for dead in Marine Parade.
Michelle, 28, has spent months in agony, learning to walk again only after metal rods were put in her badly broken lower legs.
But a judge spoke of his frustration at the limited jail sentence he could hand down to the man who left her fighting for life.
Last night she told how she felt insulted that he could serve such a short term after robbing her of months of her life.
Her determination has kept her going as she recovers from a fractured neck and pelvis, as well as bleeding under her scalp.
Chan ran down Michelle as she walked to catch a taxi home to Portslade after celebrating a friend's birthday in Brighton.
Her parents stopped Michelle's younger sisters Leanne and Emma from seeing her until a day after the accident because her injuries were so horrific.
Leanne said: “She looked awful. She had big black eyes, part of her head was shaved. She was lying there in a really deep sleep, hooked up to all these machines.
“We didn't know what to do. We just sat there and held her hand.”
Michelle does not remember the moment Chan ran her down. Her first memory is of waking in hospital in a neck brace with metal rods sticking from her legs.
She said: “When I woke up all these things were running through my head - would I be able to walk again? What would be my future if I couldn't?
“My life had changed. But I am stubborn and I soon became certain that I would get back to normal again.”
After weeks in hospital she was taken to rehabilitation at the end of August.
As Michelle was rolled through the doors in a wheelchair, nurses told her she would be there for a few months.
Leanne said: “She said 'No, I will be in here for two weeks'. At that point she hadn't even taken a step.
“I went on holiday for a week and came back to find her walking up and down the stairs. I was so shocked.”
Michelle said: “I thought that if you put your mind in the right place you can get yourself better.
“I would just walk up and down the corridors to get exercise.
“I just want to get back to work, to what my life was like before.”
Defying the medics, she went home three weeks later.
Today Michelle still walks with a limp and is unlikely to go back to work as a carer for several months.
She has not yet been able to return to running, after competing in Brighton's first marathon, and still hasn't been able to go back to spinning classes.
She said: “The injuries I have are holding me back. I miss not being as active and I was before.
“It's a disappointment. I'm quite a strong person and I can deal with the fact my life has changed a bit.
“But I'm still not able to go back to work because working as a carer is a physical job, so I am losing out financially as well.”
As she faces up to the fact that Chan's careless driving will cost her up to a year of her life in recovery, she says his 16 month prison term is an insult.
At Lewes Crown Court on Monday Judge David Rennie agreed, describing his sentencing powers as an “embarrassing inadequacy”.
For the two burglaries Chan committed at one timber flooring store after running Michelle down, he was jailed for 24 months.
In total he was jailed for five years and eight months for committing 14 crimes.
The law looks set to change by the end of the year, with new offences open to police officers that will give judges the power to jail people like Chan for up to five years for running her down on its own.
But for Michelle, it still isn't long enough.
She said: “It's a better punishment and it does need to change, but I don't think five years is enough for what he he has done to me.
“The damage he has caused has changed my life. He should be in for at least eight years.
“It's good to get Chan off the road so he can't injure anyone else. He's not good for society.
“He will probably commit more crime when he gets out unless he learns to be a better human being.
“Everyone has to make choices in their lives. He's made quite a few of the wrong ones.”
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