A four-year-old girl named Violet-Grace Youens was killed by a speeding driver, Aidan McAteer in March 2017. The accused was jailed for the killing. An MP, Marie Rimmer told the parents of the girl had a victim impact statement edited because it would upset him.
During a Westminster Hall debate, Marie Rimmer MP said 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 use of victim impact statements was at the discretion of the judge, said the Ministry of Justice. 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”.
“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,” she said. “The whole purpose of the victim impact statement is about the impact on the victim and the survivors – not the defendant,” she added.
The MP further claimed that “Guidance should be given to the judiciary that the overriding consideration is on the victim and their family.” A motion of Helen Jones, Labour MP for Warrington North, was supported by Ms. Rimmer which claimed for mandatory life sentences for those convicted of death by dangerous driving. Ms. Rimmer said: “The punishment should fit the crime.”
“They do not want what happened to their daughter to happen to anyone else,” she said. According to MoJ spokeswoman, its’ intention is to give courts the power to hand down life sentences for death by reckless driving, with proposals to change the law brought forward when parliamentary time allowed.