A police officer who thought he was responding to a London Bridge style terror attack pleaded guilty to careless driving after hitting a pedestrian.

PC Russell Kyle was driving on the wrong side of the road when he hit South African tourist Gary Paterson as he drove through a red light at a pedestrian crossing in Grand Junction Road on Brighton seafront.

Accident investigators put his speed at between 20-25mph at the time of collision, with Mr Paterson, 59, suffering broken ribs and grazing to his face.

PC Kyle admitted the charge at Hove Crown Court, where he was given a 12-month conditional discharge by a judge Andrew Goymer.

Kyle, 31, told the court he suspected there was an ongoing marauding terror attack in the city when he responded to an emergency call on September 19, 2017.

The Sussex police driver was trying to get through traffic with his blue lights and sirens on when he crossed his Ford Mondeo on to the other side of the road at about 6pm.

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He used a police driving technique called Off Siding which means crossing to the other side of the road along the seafront at Kings Road, Brighton.

“The first call was to a report of a fight, reports of a male brandishing an axe and reports of chairs and bottles thrown,” he said.

“It was obviously a very violent disturbance. It sounded like a marauding attack with reports of an axe being used. There was severe danger to the public.

“It was a couple of months after the London Bridge attack and we were on high alert. It did feel potentially like it could be that sort of attack.

“At the second location, we were informed of somebody in possession of a hammer, a hatchet and somebody run over by a vehicle.

“It was very much in my mind it could be a terrorist incident happening across the city,” PC Kyle said.

It took 20 minutes from the call to respond to the incidents through to the collision. The pedestrian froze in front of him, the PC said.

PC Kyle, who grew up in Northern Ireland, has been on the Sussex force for five years.

Mark Aldred, defending, said his client had been forced to make a tough decision in difficult circumstances.

He said: “From the description of the incident, it was spookily close to the London Bridge attacks.”

The court was told that Mr Paterson suffered the injuries, but they were not life-threatening and he made a full recovery.

He told police he had been playing blackjack in a Brighton casino before the collision, and ended like “being a rabbit in the headlights”.

Mr Paterson said: “I personally do not have any strong opinions if they were doing the wrong thing or the right thing.

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“I looked to my right but I did not look to my left as I did not expect to see any cars coming from that side.

PC Kyle was described as an exemplary officer.

His Honour Judge Andrew Goymer said it was not unreasonable for the officer, who was an approved emergency response driver, to believe he was heading towards a potential terrorist attack.

“He took the view there was an active threat to life,” the judge said.

“In that split second, PC Kyle made the wrong call in terms of how he should best avoid Mr Paterson.”

The officer was also ordered to pay the victim surcharge.