Violet-Grace Youens was killed in the crash (Picture: PA)
The parents of a four-year-old girl killed in a hit-and-run clutched her teddy bear outside court after the driver who ran her down was jailed.
Violet-Grace Youens’ parents paid heartfelt tributes to their daughter, who was fatally struck by a stolen Ford Fiesta being driven by Aidan McAteer.
After the crash in St Helens, Merseyside, which left Violet’s grandmother Angela French badly hurt, McAteer and his passenger Dean Brennan ran past the dying girl.
McAteer, 23, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for nine years and four months.
Brennan, 27, admitted the aggravated taking of a vehicle and assisting an offender, and was sentenced to six years and eight months in jail.
Aidan McAteer was sentenced to nine years behind bars (Picture: PA)
Dean Brennan was also jailed (Picture: PA)
During the emotional hearing, Violet’s father Glenn Youens said: ‘I go to bed every night cuddling her teddy bear, the bear she was holding every night. The bear still smells of her.
‘I cry myself to sleep. I miss her so much.
‘I go into her room and I read to her ashes every night, bedtime stories which she used to love.’
His wife Rebecca told the court: ‘We should be shopping for her school uniform, not her headstone.’
Outside court, Mrs Youens described her daughter as ‘funny, vibrant and caring’ and revealed she is an ‘inspiration to everyone’ having saved two lives through organ donation.
Violet’s parents spoke of how much they miss her (Picture: PA)
They clutched the teddy that ‘still smells of her’ (Picture: PA)
Liverpool Crown Court heard that McAteer and Brennan ran past the dying youngster after the crash on March 24.
The stolen car had been driving at 80mph in a 30mph zone and had travelled through red lights – with McAteer later admitting to police he is not a competent driver.
After running into Violet, McAteer continued driving but crashed into a kerb – and within hours, he had fled to Amsterdam.
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 was described as ‘funny, vibrant and caring’ (Picture: PA)
Violet’s grandmother was injured in the crash (Picture: Mercury)
After a public appeal that led to both men’s families identifying them, Brennan handed himself in and after his mother appealed for him to return, McAteer flew back to the UK to give himself up.
Peter Hussey, prosecuting, said McAteer told officers he had decided to clear his head and ‘go to Amsterdam for a few days and smoke some weed’.
Lloyd Morgan, defending McAteer, said: ‘This is a young man wracked with guilt, shame and horror that his actions have taken Violet away from her loving family, have inflicted terrible injuries on Angela French and caused all involved such pain and heartache.’
Mrs French is still in hospital nearly two months later with serious injuries to her legs, as well as fractures to her feet, ribs and jaw.