Violet-Grace Youens death: Driver Aidan McAteer jailed

image copyrightMerseyside Police
image captionDriver Aidan McAteer, left. and passenger Dean Brennan, right, ran past Violet-Grace Youens as she lay injured on the ground

A man has been jailed for the hit-and-run death of a four-year-old girl who was struck by his speeding car when it mounted a pavement in Merseyside.

Violet-Grace Youens died after Aidan McAteer's car struck her on Prescot Road, St Helens, on 24 March.

McAteer, 23, fled to Amsterdam but later pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court.

He was given a jail sentence of nine years and four months.

Violet-Grace's grandmother Angela French was seriously injured in the crash and remains in hospital.

media captionThe family of a four-year-old Violet-Grace Youens have released a video of her

The four-year-old's family wore violet ribbons and heart badges for the court hearing.

Reading a personal statement in court, Glenn Youens said he cuddled his daughter's teddy bear, which "still smells of her", every night and reads bedtime stories to her ashes.

"I cry myself to sleep. I miss her so much," he said.

image copyrightFamily photo
image captionThe donation of Violet-Grace's organs had saved two other lives, her family said

Dean Brennan, 27, a passenger in the car, had pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking and assisting an offender. He was jailed for six years and eight months.

Both men were given driving bans for when they leave jail. McAteer was banned for 10 years, while Brennan received a six-year ban.

The court heard the Ford Fiesta, which had been stolen from a community worker who works with young offenders, travelled at speeds of about 80mph in a 30mph zone after passing a police car on a roundabout.

media captionViolet Youens hit-and-run death: Driver captured running from scene

It was driven through two red lights before McAteer, who did not have a driving licence, lost control on Prescot Road and hit a kerb, then crashed into Mrs French who had her granddaughter in her arms.

The car then hit a lamppost and the defendants, both from Prescot, got out and ran past Violet-Grace as she lay injured on the ground.

'Desperately injured'

CCTV footage played in court showed them running down a nearby street after the crash.

Sentencing, Judge Denis Watson QC, said: "You must have seen Mrs French and Violet lying desperately injured on the road.

"Yet neither of you stopped, neither of you did anything to summon help, neither of you gave them a moment's thought or gave them any assistance at all.

"Your thoughts were for yourself, your escape and of avoiding responsibility for what happened."

image copyrightFamily handout
image captionViolet Grace's grandmother, Angela French, 55, was also hit by the car

Following the crash, McAteer's mother Alicia made a public appeal to her son to return home.

The next day he was arrested at Manchester Airport and questioned by detectives. Brennan, meanwhile, admitted obtaining McAteer's passport and giving it to him.

Peter Hussey, prosecuting, said McAteer told police after the crash he had decided to clear his head and "go to Amsterdam for a few days and smoke some weed".

'Absolutely devastated'

He told police he only found out days later a child had been involved in the crash.

McAteer's defence lawyer Lloyd Morgan, said his client was "wracked with guilt, shame and horror over his actions... which caused all involved such pain and heartache."

After her death, Violet-Grace's family said the donation of her organs had saved two other lives.

Her mother Rebecca Youens spoke outside court paying tribute to her "funny, vibrant and caring" daughter, adding: "No sentence passed is ever going to bring Violet back and we are absolutely devastated."

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