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  1. ITV Report

Hit-and-run driver jailed for killing four-year-old girl after running red lights at speeds of 80mph

Aidan McAteer admitted causing the death of Violet-Grace Youens Credit: PA

The driver of a stolen car who killed a four-year-old girl in a collision after running through red lights at speeds of up to 80mph in a 30mph zone has been jailed.

Aidan McAteer, 23, was sentenced to nine years and four months for causing the death of Violet-Grace Youens and severely injuring her grandmother Angela French, 55, through dangerous driving.

The court heard Aidan McAteer, 23, and passenger Dean Brennan, 27, had run past the pair as they lay injured on the ground following the crash.

McAteer then fled to Amsterdam within hours of the collision in St Helens, Merseyside, on March 24.

Violet-Grace's mother Rebecca Youens called on the government to change the law to deter reckless drivers as she said she and husband Glenn were serving "life sentences" for the loss of their "funny, vibrant and caring" daughter.

"You do everything to try and protect your child, looking out for meningitis, childhood cancer," she said outside Liverpool Crown Court.

"And then it's taken away in an instant by two inconsiderate criminals who didn't care for anybody that day apart from themselves."

The court heard the stolen Ford Fiesta, which had cloned number plates, began travelling at speeds of about 80mph in the busy 30mph area after passing a police car on a roundabout - although officers were not in pursuit.

Violet-Grace was struck as she crossed the road with her grandmother. Credit: PA

The car had been through two red lights before it lost control on Prescot Road and hit a kerb before colliding with Mrs French, who was crossing the road with her granddaughter in her arms.

McAteer previously pleaded guilty via prison video link to causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving.

Brennan was jailed for six years and eight months after admitting the aggravated taking of a vehicle and assisting an offender.

  • Judge: "Your thoughts were for yourself"

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."

  • Violet-Grace's father: "I miss her so much"

Reading a personal statement to the court, Mr Youens said: "I go to bed every night cuddling her teddy bear, the bear she was holding every night."

"I cry myself to sleep. I miss her so much."

Mrs Youens said: "We should be shopping for her school uniform, not her headstone."

She said Violet-Grace had gone on to save two lives through organ donation, adding: "She is an inspiration to everyone."

Violet-Grace's grandmother Angela French was seriously injured in the collision. Credit: PA

Mrs French remains in hospital following the crash with serious injuries to her legs, as well as fractures to her feet, ribs and jaw.

In a statement read to the court Mrs French said she hoped to be able to walk again.