Father of girl killed by dangerous driver says 'no justice' in current sentencings

·3-min read

<p>Glenn Youens, whose four-year-old daughter Violet-Grace was run over and killed by a stolen vehicle in 2017, said there was "no justice" in the current maximum sentence of 14 years, which could be drastically reduced if criminals "play the system and plead guilty".</p><p>His comments come as it was revealed new laws being introduced to parliament next year have included proposals to ensure drivers who cause death by speeding, racing, or while using a mobile phone could face a life sentence.</p><p>Recalling a "warm, sunny day" in March three years earlier, Mr Youens told Sky News about the moment Violet-Grace and his mother-in-law, Angela French, had been knocked down by a car driving 83mph in a 30mph zone in <a href="https://news.sky.com/topic/liverpool-6098" target="_blank"><strong>Liverpool</strong></a>.</p><p>In the driving seat at the time had been Aidan McAteer, then 23, alongside his passenger Dean Brennan, 27.</p><p>Mr Youens said: "It was a stolen car, he had no license. They crashed the car and they both stepped over Violet's body and ran off.</p><p>"I was at work and my father-in-law rang me and just said there had been an accident.</p><p>"Becky's (Mr Youens' wife) dad is a man I respect, so for him to ring me and be as upset as he was on the phone, I knew there was something wrong.</p><p>"I couldn't make sense of him. And when I realised it was at Becky's auntie's, I rang Becky's auntie and she told me what had happened."</p><p>The father-of-two then described arriving at the hospital to see his daughter unconscious, and where the family witnessed the "life draining from her for the next 36 hours".</p><p>"It is something that is going to stay with us for the rest of our lives," he added.</p> <p>Driver McAteer initially fled to Amsterdam hours after the crash, but returned a week later and pleaded guilty to death by dangerous driving over Violet-Grace, and for causing life-changing injuries to her grandmother.</p><p>He was eventually sentenced to nine years and four months in prison, while Brennan was jailed for six years and eight months for the aggravated taking of a vehicle and assisting an offender.</p><p>But, according to Mr Youens, McAteer was one of many in a similar position who were encouraged to "play the system" and get his sentence hugely reduced, meaning "he's going to serve less time in prison than Violet was alive".</p><p>"It doesn't seem right; it doesn't seem fair," he said. "There's no justice in that at all. Nobody I speak to feels he got enough time in prison."</p><p>Justice Secretary Robert Buckland is an agreement with campaigners and some judges, who say the current sentencing guidelines do not go far enough.</p><p>He has previously said that killer drivers must "feel the full force of the law".</p> <p>Speaking about the proposed changes, Mr Youens said such new rules would ensure judges have the power "to give these criminals the time they should get in prison".</p><p>He added: "Give the families the time to rebuild what shattered lives have been left.</p><p>"We hope the judges will use these powers and we hope it will be a deterrent for people when they're driving these cars at stupid speeds.</p><p>"If I'm driving a car legally, it's not a weapon. As soon as I'm driving dangerously, it becomes a weapon."</p>

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