Two men jailed following the death of a four year old girl

24/05/2017

A Merseyside man has been jailed for more than 9 years for killing a four year old child and seriously injuring her grandmother by dangerous driving.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Aidan McAteer, 23, from Whiston, was driving a stolen car, with false number plates in St Helens when he hit Violet-Grace Youens on Friday 24th March 2017.

Angela French, the child’s grandmother was with Violet-Grace at the time and was also hit. She suffered serious injuries.

The car was being driven at very high speed by McAteer. Dean Ian Brennan, 27, of St Helens, was in the front passenger seat.

Several witnesses reported seeing the car being driven at similarly high speeds nearby, a few minutes before the incident and said it had gone through two red lights.

After the collision, the Ford Fiesta went out of control on the nearside of the road, struck the kerb, mounted the nearside pavement and there collided with a lamp-post.

It spun around and back across the road and came to rest on top of bollards in the centre of the road.

Despite the bodies of both Mrs French and Violet-Grace lying in the road, clearly critically injured, both defendants left the damaged Ford Fiesta and ran away. McAteer later fled the country to Amsterdam and Brennan went to ground.

Violet Youens was taken to Alder Hey Children’s hospital in Liverpool but never recovered consciousness and died the following day. Her grandmother suffered serious injuries and is still in hospital.

McAteer’s mother, Alicia McAteer, saw the news on the evening of the incident and the stills from the scene and recognised her son and Dean Brennan. She contacted the police.

The following day, Brennan's former girlfriend saw details of the news coverage of the incident on Facebook and recognised Brennan. She also contacted the police.

Dean Brennan’s mother also made a statement to the Police. Brennan handed himself into police a couple of days later.

McAteer has been sentenced to 9 years and 4 months, for causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving. He’s been disqualified from driving for 10 years, the ban will begin when he is released from jail.

Brennan was sentenced to 6 years and 8 months for assisting an offender and aggravated vehicle taking. He was also banned from driving for 6 years, with the ban beginning when he is released from jail.

Richard Riley, Senior Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service said: “This is a tragic case with no winners whatsoever.

“A much-loved young girl is dead and her grandmother seriously injured, both the victims of two men who were driving recklessly and dangerously in a car that, ironically, had earlier been stolen from a community worker who worked with young offenders.

“McAteer and Brennan both pleaded guilty to the offences, but McAteer initially fled the country to avoid detection and there’s evidence that Brennan shaved his hair to change his appearance, again to avoid arrest.

“The impact of their actions on the family of Violet-Grace Youens cannot be imagined and certainly cannot be underestimated. Violet-Grace’s mother and father both read very powerful victim impact statements to the court. They are struggling to come to terms with the tragic events of that day.

“Nothing that the police, the Crown Prosecution Service or the courts can do can ease their pain, but the men responsible for that pain have at least been brought to justice and are now behind bars.

“This is at least a conclusion to one of the various stages in the painful journey that they are on. Our thoughts are with them at this very sad time.

“I would like to thank them for their courage in these dreadful circumstances and also for the parents of the two defendants and their friends who stood up for what is right and helped us make McAteer and Brennan face up to what they had done.”