A father has spoken of the anguish of not being able to pick up his son born just days before he was the victim of a hit-and-run he says he was lucky to survive.
Levi Walters was still getting used to life as a dad to three-day-old Kai when he was hit by a Landrover Discovery in Melbourne Road in Chichester.
He was left with a dislocated knee cap, a double break in his left arm, a laceration above his left eye, and multiple cuts and bruises.
The 24-year-old was rushed to St Richard’s Hospital where his partner Paris and newborn son were also recovering after the birth.
“I had my son and I was unable to pick him up, unable to hold him for a few weeks; it really did affect me,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be paralysed or in a wheelchair.”
After several days of treatment he discharged himself so he could leave his bed to be by their bedside: “My main concern was seeing my boy,” he said.
He said the incident had left him with a constant paranoia of being hit by a car.
The driver, 30-year-old Omar Khayat, was sent to prison for two years and ten months after being found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm, and pleading guilty before the trial to dangerous driving.
Mr Walters was helping his friend Kevin Bailey move house on January 18 last year when it happened.
He was operating the tail-lift on the back of the removal lorry, and as it was parked on the wrong side of the road, the control box was in the road.
Moments earlier the two friends had seen Khayat, whom they know because of a long-standing ill feeling between the defendant and Mr Bailey, sitting in his car further down the street. As Mr Walters began to lower the tail he looked up to see the 4x4 hurtling towards him. He jumped to his feet just in time to stop himself from being crushed under the wheels of the vehicle, and was thrown a car’s length down the street.
“If I hadn’t stood up, the part where my arm impacted in the headlight would have been where my head would have been,” he said.
“It could have been a lot more serious had I not taken evasive action – it could have been death.”
Mr Walters was in the middle of a work placement as a mechanic and had been offered a full time position, but his injuries curtailed his career.
He spent three years at Chichester College training for the profession, but that is now wasted as he no longer feels comfortable working in cold conditions because of the effect it has on his knee.
The judge at Chichester crown court, Claudia Ackner, said when sentencing Khayat last Thursday, January 5: “You knew he was there, you wanted to scare or frighten him or Kevin Bailey the friend he was helping to move.
“He sustained unpleasant injuries. His recovery has been slow, it has cost him both real and physical pain. You maintained this was an accident. Those arguments were both quite properly rejected by the jury. When it was obvious you had hit the person by the side of the van, you drove off at speed.”
Throughout the trial Khayat maintained the sun was in his eyes and he swerved to avoid an oncoming car.
Khayat, who previously lived in Spitalfield Lane, Chichester, and now lives in Brighton, will serve at least half his sentence before being released on licence.