Driver who ran from crash scene jailed for three years

Police have released these images to illustrate the devastation caused by a head-on collision.

Saturday, 22nd September 2018, 11:12 am
Updated Saturday, 22nd September 2018, 11:18 am
Images of the crash. Picture courtesy of Sussex Police SUS-180922-091902001

Kevin Zhou managed to escape from his mangled red Jaguar F Pace uninjured and ran from the scene without checking on the welfare of anyone else.

Police said he had veered into the path of an oncoming blue Mitsubishi Shogun, which ended up in a ditch near Bognor Regis.

The victim, Rusty Brown, 45, from Bognor Regis, was trapped and had to be released by firefighters using hydraulic equipment. He sustained life-changing injuries.

Kevin Zhou. Picture courtesy of Sussex Poloce SUS-180922-092038001

The collision occurred on the A259 Chichester Road, North Bersted, shortly before 12.30am on Thursday, August, 17 2017. No one else was involved.

Police said DNA recovered from the abandoned Jaguar – including blood on the seatbelt – linked Zhou to the scene.

Officers attended his address in Summerly Lane, Bognor Regis, but there was no trace of him.

The 29-year-old was further linked to the scene after enquiries confirmed the vehicle was a hire car belonging to Harwoods, a local dealership where Zhou worked.

The victim, Rusty Brown. Picture courtesy of Sussex Police SUS-180922-091949001

Police said he was one of two drivers who had access to the vehicle, and when he arrived for work that morning – several hours after the collision – he told his boss the car and personal items had been stolen from his home.

Zhou was taken to the police station by his boss and was subsequently arrested in connection with the crash. He had made no report of a burglary to police.

Police said he pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, failing to stop after a road traffic collision whereby injury was caused to another person, failing to report a road traffic collision whereby injury was caused to another person, and failing to provide information relating to the identification of a driver alleged to have been guilty of an offence, and the case was committed to Portsmouth Crown Court for sentence on Friday (September 21).

Zhou, who is now unemployed, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and was disqualified from driving for four years from the date of his release.

PC Ben Henwood, of the Arundel Roads Policing Unit, said: “On the day of the collision, Zhou was warned about his manner of driving by his former employer at Harwoods. However, he continued to drive in such a dangerous manner that now Rusty’s life has been changed.

“Zhou has shown no remorse for his actions by giving no account in interview of the incident or his actions, running from scene of the collision where he tried to hide in an outhouse nearby, and arrogantly turning up at work with no concern or worry about what had just happened. His actions left a man fighting for his life in his vehicle in a ditch, and wondering what happened for his life to change.

“I would like to thank the scientific support unit for the forensic links found in the vehicle, the forensic reconstruction collision investigation unit for the full examination of the vehicles and scene colleagues in the assistance with the investigation. I would like also to thank Harwoods for the prompt and essential assistance in the investigation, and Rusty for his help and dedication in bringing Zhou to justice.”

Police said Rusty was fit and active prior to the collision, regularly playing football and going for country walks.

He issued the following statement: “Prior to the collision, I had not even suffered a broken bone. I spent three weeks in hospital, during which I lost over two stone in weight, and I undertook approximately 40 hours of surgery.

“I now have a metal pin in my thigh, a below-knee amputation and numerous scars from the surgery, including a failed skin/muscle graft which was the worst three days of my life.

“I suffer with soreness and pain every day, and it is mentally and physically draining. I am still undergoing treatment, and will be for the rest of my life in one form or another. It has also severely affected my partner, and in short we have been punished for life, through no fault of our own.

“The police have been amazing in their actions in bringing Zhou to justice, and I cannot thank them – particularly PC Ben Henwood – enough. I would also like to thank Harwoods, those that provided help and support at the scene, and the health professionals and all my friends who have since aided my road to recovery.

“Obviously the injuries I received have had a massive detrimental effect on my health and wellbeing, and have also affected those close to me. But Zhou has also ruined his own life, as well as those who care for him, all for one stupid decision.

“The fact he drove dangerously, causing me life-changing injuries, was horrific, but there was no changing that once it happened.

“He fled from the scene, actively trying to hide from the authorities and not knowing the outcome of my injuries.

“He also showed a complete lack of remorse, which I believe shows his true cowardly and selfish nature. He has never taken responsibility and obviously he has little regard for the effect of his actions on others.

“Please spare a thought for those who care about you next time you might be tempted to try something foolhardy in your car.

“The price you pay could be more than just money and time. Think about the consequences of your actions.”