"You showed no remorse" judge tells Leyland driver who swapped seats after near fatal crash that left Blackpool man in coma

Matthew Harrison
Matthew Harrison

A motorist who made his drunk friend change seats with him after a pedestrian was flung 25ft into the air in a near fatal crash has been jailed for five years by a senior judge.

Matthew Harrison, 28, of Moor Road, Chorley, persuaded companion Dominic Shepherd, 45, formerly of Stratfield Place, Leyland, to lie he was the driver to avoid being arrested.

Dominic Shepherd now lives in Spain

Dominic Shepherd now lives in Spain

Victim Andrew Sanderson, who was 18 at the time, was flung 25 feet into the air when the speeding motorist hit him at more than 49 mph outside the NYX bar on Talbot Road in Blackpool - leaving him in a coma.

He suffered a blot clot and swelling on the brain, a fractured skull, fractured collar bone, leg and a fracture and deep wound to his pelvis.

The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, told Harrison he had made a "determined attempt to evade the process of justice" and added: "The jury saw through your lies and convicted you of the charges, and it's clear to me you have shown absolutely no remorse.

"You clearly had little or no regard for the safety of others."

Andrew Sanderson, 18, with former Pool midfielder Trevor Sinclair

Andrew Sanderson, 18, with former Pool midfielder Trevor Sinclair

He imposed a five year road ban and extended retest. Jurors found him guilty of dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice.

To Shepherd, who cried in the dock and asked if he could apologise in person to the family, he said: "I'm willing to accept your judgement was very much affected because of the amount of alcohol you had consumed.

"There is no doubt in my mind that for perverting the course of justice there has to be a prison sentence.

"I have considered it was very important in the context of the case that you did come clean with the police at an early stage, and this has meant that Mr Sanderson and his family will have achieved justice in relation to who was responsible for the collision."

He suspended his 12 month jail term for two years, after he previously admitted perverting the course of justice.

The court was told he had 39 convictions for 183 offences but now lived in Spain where he ran his own business.

Daniel Prowse, prosecuting, said: " The Crown says the vehicle was being driven aggressively by a driver that was in drink.

"Shepherd was arrested with a reading of twice the legal limit in his breath and as a result Harrison was allowed to go on his way, so the extent to which he was under the influence of alcohol remains unknown.

"As he sobered up in the police station he began to tell the truth."

The court was told before the crash at 2.10am on January 3 last year, the pair had been out in Blackpool at the Kaos nightclub on Queen Street before leaving in a black Audi A5.

A doorman spoke to both men as they were entering the premises, where they remained for 20 minutes, with Harrison telling him he'd been 'drinking all day'.

A doorman at the Flying Handbag told officers he saw the Audi skid around the corner on Queen Street with Harrison at the wheel, moments before the accident, and others had observed the vehicle spinning the wheels.

There was a gap of a minute and four seconds between the crash and the first witness approaching the driver’s door, during which Harrison told Shepherd: "You'll have to take this for me."

After Shepherd confessed their lie to police, officers found blood droplets on the steering wheel and driver's seat had a DNA link to Harrison, who suffered a hand inury.

Judge Brown added: "He is very fortunate to have survived and that was no doubt due to the great skill and attention of the medical staff.

"He was fortunate to have tremendous and dedicated support from his parents, especially his mother who during this period put her life on hold to look after him."