A ‘WICKED’ pick-up truck driver devastated the lives of a young couple when he ran them over and drove away, leaving them in a ditch with life-threatening injuries.
A judge praised the bravery of the couple – and the passing doctor who saved their lives.
The judge jailed the driver who, after driving away, turned around and drove past again without stopping.
Alistair Clutton, who was over the alcohol limit and had an eye injury at the time, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Clutton, 32, of Onley Park, Rugby, was jailed for two years and eight months and banned from driving for four years.
Prosecutor Raj Punia said that Louis Bronstein and his girlfriend Kady Middleton were walking along the road from their home in Woolscott, near Rugby, at around 9pm on January 26.
It was dark, but the couple were both wearing jackets with reflective pads on them when Clutton ploughed into them in his Isuzu Rodeo 4×4 pick-up truck and drove off.
Miss Punia said that earlier in the day Clutton had suffered an injury to his right eye, for which he was given eye drops at University Hospital in Coventry.
Shortly after 6pm, Clutton drove to the Shoulder of Mutton pub in Grandborough where he had two-and-a-half pints before he left at around 9pm and drove off along Grandborough Road with his lights on full beam.
Mr Bronstein, 25, and Miss Middleton, 21, were in single file coming towards oncoming traffic and saw his vehicle, but were dazzled by the lights.
Miss Punia said: “They recall very little after that, because he drove straight into them, throwing them onto the bonnet and into the windscreen before falling off into the ditch.”
Mr Bronstein’s head went through the windscreen and Miss Middleton’s caused it to break, and hair from both of them was trapped in the broken glass.
After Clutton drove off without stopping, a passing driver – Dunchurch GP Dr Ian Czerniewski – found the badly-injured Miss Middleton, but could not get a signal when he tried to call an ambulance. When he tried to flag down another driver, the first one to come along was Clutton who drove straight past him.
When a second car stopped, its headlights revealed Mr Bronstein in the ditch.
Mr Bronstein had a broken rib, vertebrae and ribs, a crushed artery and knee and ligament damage – putting paid to his cycling, which he used to love – and he spent a month in hospital.
Miss Middleton, who was in for three weeks, suffered lacerations to her liver and pancreas, an arterial bleed, a broken leg, ten rib fractures and a tear to the tube of her oesophagus.
Police found evidence a Rodeo was involved, and found there was one registered locally – to Clutton. He would not answer the door when they went to his home, so they had to force entry to arrest him.
Clutton, who had a conviction for excess alcohol, failed a breath test, and claimed he had drunk two bottles of San Miguel since getting back, but there were no empty bottles in the house.
He claimed he thought he had hit a deer and did not stop because he panicked, adding that when he returned to the scene, he did not see the doctor in the road.
Alexander Stein, defending, said Clutton, who had been told at the hospital that he was OK to drive, was on the autistic spectrum which could have affected his reasoning.
He said Clutton, who was not speeding or carrying out a dangerous manoeuvre, accepts he should have seen them; and Judge Andrew Lockhart QC commented: “He just ran them down.”
Mr Stein added: “He does show genuine remorse for what he’s done and the stupid mistake he made.”
But jailing Clutton, Judge Lockhart said: “You had every opportunity to see those people but for some reason, you ran straight into them.
“The impact was enormous. Both were catapulted onto the bonnet and both their skulls hit the windscreen right in front of you. You knew you had struck two human beings.
“The injuries they sustained were life-threatening; but wickedly you drove away.
“Two lives have been devastated by your actions.”
The judge added of Miss Middleton and Mr Bronstein: “Their bravery has been enormous, in my view, and it shines out as a light in this dark case. The court can never attempt to pass a sentence which would begin to compensate them for the difficulties they face in their lives.
“And I publicly commend Dr Ian Czerniewski who stopped and did all he could to seek to save the lives of those two young people.”