Violet-Grace Youens: Death crash parents' victim statement 'was edited'

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Aidan McAteer was driving a stolen car at 83mph when he hit four-year-old Violet-Grace Youens

The parents of a four-year-old girl who was killed by a speeding driver had a victim impact statement edited because it would upset him, an MP said.

Aidan McAteer was jailed for killing Violet-Grace Youens in St Helens, in March 2017.

Marie Rimmer MP told a Westminster Hall debate that the youngster’s parents’ full statement was changed after an application from McAteer’s barrister.

The MP for St Helens South called for new guidance to be issued to judges.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the use of victim impact statements was at the discretion of the judge.

‘Not about the defendant’

Labour MP Ms Rimmer told the debate that McAteer’s barrister objected to the parents’ full statement, arguing that the defendant would find it “too upsetting”.

She said: “The judge accepted this and the CPS barrister gave the parents a copy of their impact statement with parts they could not read out in open court highlighted.

“The whole purpose of the victim impact statement is about the impact on the victim and the survivors – not the defendant.”

The MP added: “Guidance should be given to the judiciary that the overriding consideration is on the victim and their family.”

Ms Rimmer backed a motion from Helen Jones, Labour MP for Warrington North, calling for mandatory life sentences for those convicted of death by dangerous driving. Ms Rimmer said: “The punishment should fit the crime.”

Ms Jones praised the “courage and tenacity” of Violet-Grace’s parents, whose petition had triggered the debate in Parliament.

“They do not want what happened to their daughter to happen to anyone else,” she said.

An MoJ spokeswoman said it intended to give courts the power to hand down life sentences for death by dangerous driving, with proposals to change the law brought forward when parliamentary time allowed.