A BUILDER left a father for dead after crashing into him at high speed while he was crossing the road.

Adam McDermott was driving his girlfriend’s car when he sped around the corner of Montague Place in Brighton on the wrong side of the road and knocked Andrew Payne into the air.

He raced off in his fiancee’s Fiat 500 before the 53-year-old had even fallen back onto the concrete, leaving him with life threatening injuries.

Mr Payne was rushed to hospital with a serious head injury after the incident at about 3.40pm on January 14 last year.

He is now recovering but has life changing injuries from bleeding on the brain. He has memory problems but has been able to go back to work at SSE energy company as a smart meter reader.

McDermott, 32, yesterday confessed to causing serious injury by dangerous driving as well as a string of other charges when he arrived to stand trial at Lewes Crown Court.

He also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice with Clark Walker. The pair bought lighter fluid and set fire to the car in a bid to destroy evidence. It was found partially burnt out just two streets away from the house in Vernon Terrace which McDermott shared with his mother and fiancee Robyn Burns, with whom he has a six-month-old child.

Burns, 29, broke down in tears in the dock as she pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

She and McDermott told police and her insurance company the Fiat had been stolen before the crash.

McDermott quietly also admitted he failed to stop after hitting Mr Payne while he was driving without a licence or insurance. His part in the second conspiracy was left to lie on file.

Described by his defence barrister Pierce Power as having a long and “chequered” criminal past, McDermott said “cheers” as he was taken down to the cells.

He is already in custody, serving a sentence for shoplifting and threatening somebody with a knife at the Lakeside shopping centre in London.

Walker, 31, of Ditchling Rise, Brighton, is also behind bars After the arson he was recalled on an indefinite sentence for his part in a kidnapping.

Burns was released on conditional bail until next month when all three will be sentenced.

Judge Charles Kemp warned McDermott he would face a lengthy jail sentence. He told Burns he was “not making any promises” and she could go to prison too.

Mr Payne’s wife Lisa and their daughter were in court to hear the news. At a previous hearing Mrs Payne said she could not bear to watch the CCTV footage of the incident. Sussex Police released the video in a bid to encourage witnesses with information to come forward. The footage was viewed more than three million times online.


POLICE said yesterday it was a miracle Andrew Payne survived the hit and run.

Sergeant Dan Pitcher, of East Sussex roads policing unit, told the press outside court: “How we are not investigating a fatality, I will never know.”

He said McDermott’s driving was dangerous and police embarked on a significant investigation after he then tried to set light to the car.

The crash caused serious damage to the car. McDermott could not see where he was going as he drove for another mile afterwards because the windscreen was smashed.

Sgt Pitcher said: “We have worked extremely hard as a team to bring these three to justice for the Payne family. How Andy is still alive and has no major long lasting physical damage is a miracle.

“McDermott’s actions that day were awful. He drove without regard for anyone’s life and when he did 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. Thankfully this investigation has not been into Mr Payne’s death; this only comes down to luck.

“Burns and Walker conspired with McDermott to cover up his actions and claim the car had been stolen.

“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.”