A SPEEDING hit-and-run driver who mowed down a pedestrian and left him with catastrophic life-changing injuries is behind bars.

James Wilton’s victim suffered two broken legs, a fractured shoulder and left arm, and told how he now feels “downtrodden and helpless”.

The Stockton man says he is no longer the same with his children, partner and family.

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Wilton, 31, was jailed for 16 months yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The former soldier was doing between 37mph and 39mph when he hit the man crossing Prince Regent Street, Stockton, last August.

The victim had been to the Riverside music festival and into town, and was returning home at around 1.30am, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Wilton would have had eight seconds to see him, slow down and avoid a collision, said prosecutor Jenny Haigh.

After the impact, the driver fled, hid his BMW under plastic sheeting and told police he had earlier sold it.

In a statement, the victim said he had no memory of the collision or his first five days in hospital.

He still had an external frame on his left leg when he made the statement in June, and was unable to walk unaided.

“It has completely turned my life upside down. I can barely walk 100 metres before the pain becomes too much.

“I am forced to stay at home like a prisoner, and I have had to move into ground-floor accommodation to help with my rehabilitation.

“I am no longer the person I used to be. I feel angry, downtrodden and helpless.”

Wilton, of Redbrook Avenue, Stockton, will also have to serve a two-year driving ban once he is released from prison.

His barrister said he has recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing traumatic events while serving in Iraq with the Royal Artillery.

Duncan McReddie, mitigating, said Wilton should have seen the pedestrian, but asked Judge Howard Crowson not to lock him up.

The judge said he should have been far more careful in what was a busy street with people outside of pubs and crossing the road.

He told Wilton he had caused “a substantial risk of danger” by speeding and failing to keep a proper look out.