A man who admitted causing death by dangerous driving has been handed a jail term of seven years and six months, and been banned from driving for eight years and nine months.
Lewis Charles Payne, 32, of Stockwood, entered a guilty plea at a hearing in December 2023, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on Thursday 8 February.
He was the driver and sole occupant of his Audi A3 on Airport Road in Bristol just before 10pm on Sunday 10 July 2022.
Zac Betty, 24, of Knowle, was walking to work along the pavement when Payne’s car mounted the kerb, crossed a cycle lane and struck him.
The car didn’t stop until it collided with a lamppost.
Members of the public rushed to help and called the emergency services, but tragically Zac had sustained multiple injuries and could not be saved.
A police expert witness said that in the moments before the collision the Audi was being driven at speeds of up to 51mph on the 30mph road.
The defendant claimed to have blacked out just before the collision. He was unable to supply medical evidence to support this and his account was contradicted by CCTV evidence showing that the vehicle’s brake lights were on.
Evidence of both cannabis and cocaine use was found in samples of Payne’s blood. The remains of a takeaway burger meal and drink, bought just 15 minutes earlier, were found in the car footwell, along with a partially-smoked cigarette.
Zac Betty, pictured below, who had a young son, was described as a loving, caring and selfless son, brother, uncle and daddy.
His family said at the time: “We are absolutely heartbroken. You were an amazing person to have around and you’ve made a massive impact. There is a deep hole now in our heart. We all will love you forever and more.”
After Lewis Payne was sentenced, Zac’s parents issued a further statement:
“Today the wheels of justice have turned and the person who took away our son has been sentenced.
“No parent should ever have to be in the position where they bury a child. It is not the way of the world. There is no sentence that will bring back our Zac.
“The hole that has been left by his loss could never be filled or reduced by any sentence.
“We would now appreciate time and space to process what has happened.
“As a family we appreciate all the support from all the agencies involved.”
Sentencing, His Honour Judge William Hart said Payne was travelling between 48 and 50mph in a 30mph limit and struck Zac Betty from behind after crossing the width of the pavement. HHJ Hart dismissed Payne’s claim to have “blacked out”, reflecting that CCTV depicts his brake lights coming on.
After noting that Payne’s blood confirmed the presence of cocaine and cannabis HHJ Hart said: “No sentence I can give will undo a life lost.”
Investigating officer Dai Nicholas said: “I’d firstly like to pass on my thanks to those members of the public who tried to help at the scene, and the witnesses who came forward.
“The medical evidence showed that Lewis Payne was over the legal limit for cannabis and still had traces of cocaine in his system. The forensic expert said the level of the active ingredient of cannabis in his blood would have significantly affected his ability to safely control a motor vehicle.
“His decision to get behind the wheel has devastated a family. I hope they can now start to find some peace.”