Parents of St Helens girl Violet-Grace Youens, four, call for life sentences for killer drivers

Video report from Merseyside Correspondent Andy Bonner.

The parents of a four-year-old girl who was killed by a speeding driver in a stolen car are stepping up their calls for tougher deterrents after learning that he has been allowed to leave prison mid-way through his sentence.

Violet-Grace Youens from St Helens, Merseyside, died in March 2017 after being knocked over by the car which was travelling at 83mph in a 30mph zone.

Her grandmother, Angela French, suffered life-changing injuries in the incident.

The family has learned that the driver, Aidan McAteer, was released on licence from prison on December 29, 2021.

Aidan McAteer was driving at 83mph when he hit Violet-Grace

McAteer, who was 23 at the time of the crash, stepped over Violet's body to flee the scene on Prescot Road and escaped abroad before handing himself in following an appeal.

He was sentenced to nine years and four months after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

His passenger Dean Brennan, who helped him leave the country, was given a sentence of six years and eight months.

The current maximum jail term for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years.

Violet-Grace Youens was 4 years old when she was knocked down

Months after the crash, Violet's parents launched a petition to allow judges to sentence killer drivers to life behind bars - an idea which had been raised the previous year.

The government agreed to the proposals in 2019 but the law has yet to the changed.

The idea is now part of the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill which is currently going through Parliament.

However, Violet's parents fear that each day without this increased deterrent is costing lives.

Violet's parents want Parliament to "step up" to its promise to change the law

They want to meet with the Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab to explain how their lives have changed since losing their daughter.

McAteer, from Prescot, previously broke prison rules by posting messages about his life in custody on social media.

A mobile phone was confiscated after a prison search and the social media account was taken down.

Aidan McAteer smiles for his Instagram picture from prison

People jailed for 12 months or more spend the second half of their sentence on licence in the community.

If they break any licence conditions, such as committing another crime, they could end up back behind bars.

Violet's parents say they don't want other families to experience what they have had to go through.

They say they won't stop until the law is changed.

A Government spokesperson said, "Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Violet-Grace Youens.

"Dangerous drivers ruin lives which is why we are changing the law to introduce life sentences for killer drivers."