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Family of 4 year old killed in hit-and-run succeed in campaign to save other children

Violet-Grace Youens

The family of a 4-year-old girl killed in a hit-and-run crash have succeeded in a campaign to help save the lives of other children.

Violet-Grace Youens was struck by a stolen car speeding at 83mph in a 30mph zone, on Prescot Road, St Helens, in March, 2017.

The devastating crash also left her grandmother Angela French with life-changing injuries.

The driver, 23-year-old Aidan McAteer, and his passenger, Dean Brennan, 26, had been trying to evade a police patrol car and instead of rushing to help Violet-Grace and Mrs French after the collision, heartlessly ran off.

Now, thanks to campaigning by Violet-Grace's parents Glenn and Rebecca, St Helens Council has agreed to install new traffic islands and improve road markings to improve the safety of Prescot Road.

And in a touching tribute, a new pedestrian crossing close to where she died is to be paved violet.

We want to say a massive thank you to St. Helens Council, the road safety team and everyone who has and will be involved in helping us make this area safer.

– Glenn Youens, Violet-Grace's father

McAteer had careered through two red lights before hitting Violet-Grace and Mrs French, who was carrying her granddaughter across the road in her arms.

McAteer briefly fled the country after the collision, prompting his own mum to make a public appeal for him give himself up.

He then returned to the UK and was jailed for nine years and four months after admitting causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving.

Brennan, who helped McAteer leave the country, was locked up for six years and eight months.

Speaking shortly after the pair were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court, Violet’s mum Rebecca said: "No sentence passed is ever going to bring Violet back, we’re absolutely devastated.

"Violet was such as beautiful child inside and out, she was so funny vibrant and caring, she was my first born daughter.

"You do everything to try and protect your child - and then it’s taken away in an instant by two inconsiderate criminals who didn’t care for anybody that day apart from themselves."

Floral tributes on Prescot Road, St Helens after the crash Credit: Liverpool Echo Syndication

Glenn and Rebecca have also campaigned for increases to the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving.

Under current law, the maximum penalty available to judges is 14 years after a trial, but if a defendant pleads guilty at the first available opportunity this is automatically reduced by a third.

In the UK, criminals serving determinate prison sentences are automatically released on license half way through their jail terms, meaning the maximum possible time behind bars, if the culprit has pleaded guilty, is around four and a half years.

Glenn has pointed out that McAteer will spend "less time in jail than Violet-Grace was alive."

A petition created by the family easily exceeded the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a debate in Parliament earlier this year.