A father-of-six is fighting to save his leg three years after he was ‘left for dead’ in a Christmas Eve hit-and-run.
John Clough, 57, was flung 28ft into the air when his neighbour, uninsured driver Elaine Annon, 28, hit him moments after he left his local pub with a friend.
Mr Clough was ‘splattered like a lamb to slaughter on the windscreen,’ prosecuting lawyer Edward Aydin said in court.
The impact broke Mr Clough’s skull, neck, nose, ribs, pelvis, right leg and both ankles and he suffered multiple internal injuries.
But rather than help the stricken Mr Clough, Annon simply stripped the vehicle’s number plates and fled with her two passengers.
He spent months in hospital as doctors put him back together using dozens of metal pins, screws and braces.
Speaking for the first time about the incident in 2015, Mr Clough said: “I was walking home with a friend at 11.45pm to get home in time for Christmas Day with my wife when that incident destroyed my life.
“I had just left my friend Chris when he heard a bang and saw me being thrown through the air.
“The car hit me and threw me onto the bonnet. My face went through the windscreen so the driver must have seen me up very close.
“The next thing I knew I woke up in a hospital bed ten days later.
“I didn’t know where I was. I was delirious, I thought they had amputated my leg, I was hooked up to lots of tubes, my broken neck was in a brace and I couldn’t move.
“I kept slipping in and out of dreams where I thought I was Jason Bourne in an action film.
“I was in hospital lying flat on my back in a neck brace for three months.
“Then my leg got very badly infected and I was in for six weeks. It looked like a piece of raw steak. They had to leave the wound open to treat the infection.”
Annon was arrested on New Year’s Day after her sister told police she had been a passenger in the silver Renault Megane car and eventually pleaded guilty to failing to stop after a road traffic accident and driving without insurance.
Annon was jailed for just 20 weeks and banned from driving for 26-and-a-half months in July 2016.
Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court heard that Annon ‘lied and lied again to cover each other lie she told’.
Prosecuting lawyer Mr Aydin said at the trial: "It is an irresponsible act of horror and suffering, not only towards this victim but the family, and on Christmas Day while they are having their pudding this victim is on the operating table for 10 hours with his leg trying to be saved.
"This is a tragic accident – there is no doubt about that – but the circumstances left afterwards are even more tragic."
District Judge Ann Sawetz told Annon: "Serious injury would have been obvious to anyone.
"It was absolutely horrendous and you left that victim at the scene.
"You left him to it."
Mr Clough said: “When I look at my leg now I can see the bone under my skin. The skin peels off it when I’m in the shower for too long.
“I have to wear a fixator [a metal brace fixed onto the leg to form an external skeleton] on it to pull the bones and ligaments and to get the blood to circulate to encourage bones to fuse together.”
The following Christmas, as the family reeled from Mr Clough’s life-changing injuries, his son Michael Clough, 29, fell from the fourth floor of a building while helping a friend fix a roof leak.
He broke his back and smashed his leg and ended up in the same hospital as his dad, operated on by the same orthopaedic surgeon and had a fixator just like as his dad’s.
"Our surgeon said it’s the first time she’s operated on both a father and son.”
Mr Clough has been left in so much pain that he relies on his morphine prescription to get him through the day although his head injury means that he sometimes forgets to take it on time.
He said: “I have short term memory loss after the skull fracture. I keep my language simple now because I find it hard to say the words I want. I can see them in my head but I can’t always get them out.
“It’s frustrating but I’m lucky to be alive, and to be with my family.
“My friends and family have kept me going.
"The muscle from my right leg was ripped off so surgeons took half the muscle from my left thigh and transplanted it onto my right calf. The doctors have tried so hard to save my leg but it might still need to be amputated.
“Now every Christmas reminds me of that day.
“It’s been a struggle but I feel most sorry for my poor wife Bev as my mood swings have been terrible.
"I was quite active but I have been more like a recluse these past three years. Being inside drives me up the wall.
"This has ruined my life. We used to have a couple of holidays a year as our children have all grown up. We thought that this time was for us and then this happened.”
John won a six figure payout and he hopes the settlement will help him rebuild his life.
He has been unable to return to work as a delivery driver since the crash near his home in Clapham, South London,
He said: “I do get angry sometimes about what happened. If she wasn’t driving I wouldn’t be where I am.
“She wasn’t supposed to be on the road. She was sentenced to 20 weeks and banned for two years. That was it for ruining my life. It’s a joke, where is the justice in that?
“No words could describe what she has done to me and my family.
“I could have died in that crash and left my wife a widow and my kids fatherless. At least I’m here for a few more years yet.
“We have six kids, you wait all your life for this time of life, when you’re free to travel and enjoy yourself more, and then all your plans go pear-shaped."
Louise Jukes, lawyer at Hodge Jones & Allen specialising in personal injury, who represents John said: “My client’s life was devastated as a result of the horrific injuries he suffered as he walked home to spend Christmas with his family.
“He was left for dead and is lucky to be alive. Three years on and he is still fighting to save his leg. I hope the financial settlement he has received will help him rebuild his life.”
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