Heartbroken mum of girl, 4, killed by 80mph hit-and-run driver recalls her final moments as she calls for ‘a life sentence for a life taken’

THE heartbroken mum of a four-year-old girl killed by an 80mph hit-and-run driver has recalled her final moments as she called for a “life sentence for a life taken”.

Violet-Grace Youens had been walking with her gran Angela French, 57, in St Helens in Merseyside when she was hit by maniac driver Aidan McAteer, then 23, in a stolen car.

Little Violet-Grace was killed the day before Mother’s Day in 2017
Violet-Grace’s parents Glenn and Becky have called on the government to impose life sentences for people who cause death by dangerous driving

Violet-Grace died in her mum and dad’s arms the night before Mother’s Day 2017.

Her parents, Glenn and Becky, are now campaigning for Violet’s Law, which calls for life sentences for dangerous drivers who kill.

McAteer ran two red lights and hit Violet-Grace at 83mph before stepping over her body to make his escape.

Passenger Dean Brennan, 27, was jailed for six years and eight months after admitting the aggravated taking of a vehicle and assisting an offender.

Their petition has attracted more than 164,000 names and will be debated by MPs today.

In 2017 the government said drivers who kill in serious cases of dangerous and careless driving would face life sentences.

But no legislation has been brought to parliament yet.

FINAL MOMENTS

Speaking ahead of today’s debate Glenn and Becky told of their final hours with Violet-Grace and their dismay at the sentences handed down to the men who were in the car that killed her.

Becky, 31, said: “Glenn phoned me at about 3.25pm at work, when I heard him crying on the phone I knew something bad had happened.

“When I got to Whiston Hospital I went into shock. They had to put me in a bed and gave me anti-sickness and a nurse had to keep coming and liaising with me.

“They said: ‘Violet has had another cardiac arrest but we have got her back and we need to get her to Alder Hey now, we are going to bring her through and she’s going to have lots of tubes and wires coming from her’.

“We were escorted to Alder Hey and they said that they ‘didn’t think she was going to survive’.

“We didn’t believe that. We thought she was going to be our miracle, so we asked to see the surgeon because they said she had brain stem death and, in the end, it took for him and a neurologist to show us the scans which showed (the extent of her injuries).

“We had a bedside vigil, and then we went down to theatre and we said goodbye and myself and Glenn were in bed with Violet. She battled, but in the end, they took her tube out and she didn’t breathe.

“I will never forget this bit sinking in for the final time, just thinking please breathe sweetheart, please breathe.”

TRIAL

Liverpool Crown Court heard how McAteer and passenger Brennan had ran past Violet-Grace as she lay injured on the ground after the car had struck her on Prescot Road.

McAteer, who fled to Amsterdam within hours of the collision, pleaded guilty to causing Violet-Grace’s death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury to her gran, who suffered life-changing injuries.

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

Becky added: “Before they were sentenced we were pulled to one side and told ‘don’t expect double figures’.

“I was like: ‘Don’t expect double figures for my baby’s life, a four-year-old girl’s life? Don’t expect double figures?’ Then it got worse because the nine years and four months is halved (due to parole).

“We were told we couldn’t read our victim impact statements out (in full) because it would be too upsetting for McAteer to hear.”

The 31-year-old added: “This has to stop because families are being torn apart by this crime and we are the ones with a life sentence.

“We were shopping for headstones when all of Violet’s friends’ parents were shopping for school uniforms for reception class in September.

“When we got to January [this year] we said we need to do this now (Violet’s Law). That car was a lethal weapon and they should be in prison for it for life.”

A Ministry of Justice 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.”

Rebecca and Glen Youens, the parents of Violet-Grace Youens who was killed in a hit-and-run crash, outside Liverpool Crown Court
PA:Press Association
Aidan McAteer has been jailed after causing the death of a four-year-old Violet-Grace Youens
PA:Press Association

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Glenn Youens pictured with his daughter[/caption]

The devastated parents of Violet-Grace Youens carry her tiny coffin into church as hundreds of mourners gathered for the four-year-old's funeral
Devastated Becky and Glenn carried Violet-Grace’s coffin into the church at her funeral
Mercury Press

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