THE judge who sentenced Aidan McAteer and Dean Brennan today (Friday, May 19) at Liverpool Crown Court said the two "knew exactly what they had done", but still fled the scene, thinking only of “escaping” and “avoiding what had happened”.
Judge Denis Watson QC sentenced McAteer, 23, to nine years and four months for causing death by dangerous driving, to be served concurrently with three years, four months for causing serious injury by dangerous driving. Brennan, 27, got six years, eight months for aggravated vehicle taking and assisting an offender.
Judge Watson said he did not believe claims the defendants had not seen the victims in the road.
Peter Hussey, prosecuting, showed the court CCTV footage from a private residence on Lincoln Road, in which McAteer and Brennan are seen fleeing after abandoning the stolen Ford Fiesta on Prescot Road, following the collision which killed four-year-old Violet-Grace Youens and seriously injured her nan, Angela French, 55.
Footage showed the defendants running from the scene - McAteer in blue and Brennan in black. A resident, who is in the front garden at the time, upon seeing the pair run past, and then hearing the sound of sirens, is seen walking from his home towards the sirens to investigate.
Mr Hussey told the court another witness said they saw "two men jump over a wall" and start jogging. The witness said one man shouted to the other “Don’t shout my name” and “Don’t make it look like we’re running”.
Within hours of the incident, McAteer had flown to Amsterdam after obtaining his passport.
Mr Hussey told the court: "McAteer’s mum reported that at about 3.15pm her son rang her. She told police he had moved out in October 2016 due to a clash of personalities with her husband.
"When he rang her, it was to ask where his passport was; she said she didn’t know and the call ended, but three minutes later she found it and called him back.”
He added: “He sent Dean over. Moments later Dean arrived, sweating, out of breath, and said they had been to the gym. That evening she heard the news, saw the images and instantly recognised her son and Dean Brennan. She felt numb. An hour later she had to do the right thing and she called the police to identify the two men."
Mr Hussey said Brennan's mother said he came back at about 11pm and asked for his birth certificate.
On March 30, officers went to Manchester Airport to meet a Jet2 flight from Alicante. Police boarded it, and arrested McAteer who said he was coming back to hand himself in.
In a police interview, Mr Hussey said, McAteer said he panicked then decided to clear his head and go to Amsterdam for a few days "to smoke some weed".
Ben Morris, defending, said: “To think they wouldn’t be panicking would be to deny nature."
Judge Watson said: “Within minutes McAteer called his mother asking for his passport, sent Brennan to her - and you were on a flight for Amsterdam by 6."
Addressing the defendants, he said: “You must have seen Mrs French and Violet on the road - two people, one of them a child, gravely injured, and your only thoughts were for yourselves... escaping, avoiding what had happened."