THE dad of Violet-Grace Youens says his daughter’s “legacy will last forever”, ahead of plans for a new law pressing for tougher sentences for dangerous drivers are set out in a government white paper.

Violet-Grace Youens, a four-year-old girl from Eccleston died after being hit by a stolen speeding car at 83mph on Prescot Road in 2017.

The driver, Aidan McAteer was sentenced to nine years and four months due to the current maximum penalty being just 14 years. Due to his early guilty plea, he could be released next year.

In light of this, Glenn and Becky launched an online petition calling for a life sentence maximum tariff for those who cause death by dangerous driving – their petition garnered more that 167,000 signatures and it was debated in Parliament in July 2019.

In July 2020 former prime minister Theresa May introduced a private members’ bill at parliament, meaning it has passed the first step to becoming law and a second reading is due in October.

This weekend, the Government announced that the legislation to introduce life sentences for killer drivers is finally set to be introduced to next year, which will be a four year wait after a 2017 pledge from the Ministry of Justice.

The move forms part of major sentencing reforms to be unveiled by the Lord Chancellor in a white paper on Wednesday. 

The measures include plans to: increase the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life; increase the maximum penalty for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life and create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.

Talking about the news, Glenn Youens, Violet’s dad said: “We could not be more proud of our daughter; she’s been gone three years and in that time she directly saved two lives through organ donation, encouraged many others to save lives by signing the [organ donor] register and now her story has changed the law.

“She lived a short life, but her legacy will last forever.

“I know this is just the start but if other families who lose their loved ones don’t have to suffer the injustice, then it goes a small way to piecing together their broken hearts.”

Marie Rimmer, MP for St Helens South and Whiston, said: “This has been a long time coming, but I am glad the government has finally published it. It was first promised back in 2017, so I hope now there will be no more delays.

“A new law will not ease the pain and suffering that Violet-Grace’s parents have endured. But through their tireless campaigning, Rebecca and Glenn have been inspirational to me and many other MPs.

“They got this on the agenda so that the sentence will finally fit the crime."

“It still shocks me that the driver that killed Violet-Grace will serve less time than she was alive. It is simply unjust.

“The sentences for killer drivers have been far too lenient for far too long. I will work constructively with the Government to see this through.”

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake said: “Crash victims have waited three long years for this announcement. Road crime is real crime and it is high-time that the Government, and the law, recognised this.

“Years of Government inaction have added to the suffering of road victims who have not been delivered the justice they, and their loved ones, deserve. The Government must now implement these tougher sentences as first priority, delivering on their overdue promise to road crash victims, and then urgently initiate a review of the flawed legal framework for road justice.

“Driving is a privilege not a right and yet our flawed legal system continues to allow convicted dangerous drivers on the roads where they can endanger others.

"We all want safer roads but we will only achieve this if the law treats road crime with the seriousness it deserves.”