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  1. ITV Report

'He deserves life in prison': Grieving parents call for tougher sentences for dangerous drivers who kill

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia

Violet-Grace Youens was just four-years-old when she was knocked down and killed by a driver in a stolen car.

Aidan McAteer hit Violet at 83mph in a 30mph zone and then stepped over her body to flee from the scene of his horrific crime in St Helens, Merseyside in 2017.

Determined her death should not be in vain, her parents, Becky and Glenn Youens, launched a petition in her name urging for a change in legislation.

Violet-Grace's Law calls for life sentences for those convicted of death by dangerous driving.

Having gained more than 164,000 signatures, it was on Monday debated by MPs.

Mr and Mrs Youens told ITV News they were propelled into action after learning McAteer, who was sentenced to nine years and four months, could be freed on licence in 2021.

Mrs Youens said: ''When parents were shopping for school uniforms, we were shopping for Violet's headstone.

"Violet has had her life taken away from her, her whole life.

''He killed my child, he is a child killer.

"He deserves life in prison.''

Pictured: Violet-Grace Youens smiles sweetly for the camera. Credit: ITV News

McAteer, who had run two red lights, was captured on CCTV running away from the scene and was only caught after fleeing abroad.

Mr and Mrs Youens now want the Government to make good on a promise made in 2017 that there would be life sentences for those convicted of death by dangerous driving.

Mrs Youens told ITV News: ''When parole is taken into account, he will have served less time than what Violet was alive.

''The justice system has failed Violet as far as we're concerned and we don't want families to suffer like this and when it goes to court they're going to feel the injustice that we felt: that their loved one's life is worth a few years in prison.''

Aidan McAteer hit Violet at 83 mph in a 30 mph zone and then stepped over her body to flee from the scene of his horrific crime. Credit: Merseyside Police

Mr Youens added: ''We will not stop until Violet's legacy is done the way it should be and families are not victimised like we were.''

The Ministry of Justice said on Monday it is still committed to changing the law.

A spokesperson said: "We intend to give courts the power to hand down life sentences for death by dangerous driving – sending a clear message to those who drive irresponsibly.

''Proposals for a change in the law will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows."

Callous McAteer fleeing from the scene of the crime. Credit: ITV News