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Killer of four-year-old Violet-Grace celebrates birthday on Instagram with smuggled mobile phone

Jailed hit-and-run coward Aidan McAteer took to social media to celebrate his first birthday after being locked up over the death of Violet-Grace Youens.

The 24-year-old posted an image of a card handed to him by fellow inmates branding him “HMP Birthday Boy” – and reassuring him “You can lock the locks but you can’t stop the clocks”.

The image was one of more than a dozen messages – thought to have been made using a mobile phone smuggled into prison – published by McAteer since he was jailed in May.

They have since disappeared after the Ministry of Justice said it was planning “immediate action” in response to the posts being brought to the organisation’s attention by the ECHO.

Posts made to Instagram by an account that appeared to be operated by Aidan McAteer from behind bars
Posts made to Instagram by an account that appeared to be operated by Aidan McAteer from behind bars
(Image: ugc)
Posts made to Instagram by an account that appeared to be operated by Aidan McAteer from behind bars
Posts made to Instagram by an account that appeared to be operated by Aidan McAteer from behind bars
(Image: ugc)

McAteer was sentenced to nine years and four months after the stolen vehicle he was driving more than 50mph over the speed limit hit Violet-Grace and her nan, Angela French, on Prescot Road in St Helens.

The four-year-old, who McAteer had to run past as he fled the Ford Fiesta, lost her brave battle for survival while Ms French suffered catastrophic injuries.

Aidan McAteer will spend almost the same time in jail his tragic hit and run victim Violet-Grace Youens was alive

The one-time promising footballer pleaded guilty to causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving – but only after he flew back to the UK after initially fleeing the country as Violet-Grace fought to overcome her injuries.

McAteer turned 24 on August 3 and took to Instagram to show off the reception he got from his associates behind bars.

He posted an image of a birthday card – written out to “A” – and signed by his new friends.

He captioned the picture: “Lil b day card off the lads on the wing x nice one everybody for me cards n messages means allot c yas all soon”.

That message is one of around a dozen thought to have been posted during McAteer’s time in jail.

Posts made to Instagram by an account that appeared to be operated by Aidan McAteer from behind bars
Posts made to Instagram by an account that appeared to be operated by Aidan McAteer from behind bars
(Image: ugc)
Posts made to Instagram by an account that appeared to be operated by Aidan McAteer from behind bars
Posts made to Instagram by an account that appeared to be operated by Aidan McAteer from behind bars
(Image: ugc)

The posts were all published on a private account, but have been seen by ECHO. They included an image that appeared to show him on a scrambler bike.

The posts show that McAteer had access to a mobile phone – banned on the inside – though it is not known whether the device was obtained by him or one of his friendship group.

Not only do they reveal he was able to use social media to communicate with friends in the outside world, the response to his posts highlight how he has maintained a network of support – more than 200 people ‘liked’ his birthday card picture and a separate image showing him with his mum, who publicly pleaded for him to return and face justice after he fled to the European mainland.

McAteer’s social media antics include a lengthy display of remorse.

Violet Grace Youens, 4, who died in her mother’s arms days after she was mown down in a hit-and-run
Violet-Grace Youens

He was said to regret his tragic actions ahead of his sentence, with Liverpool Crown Court hearing he was “wracked with guilt, shame and horror”.

One of his prison posts reads: “Nobody could ever understand the burden I hafto live with n I couldn’t b anymore sorry[.] jus wish I could switch places or turn back time coz a would I had so much goin for me[.] n within a heartbeat i felt like it was over n cost somebody else thier life n the pain is unbearable[.] I got a big heart but feel lost lately but Il get through it[.]

“If I can give anybody a heads up on life hold on to wa ye love n never let go coz as much as u think tommmorow is for granted its not ye life can hit rock bottom within a click of a fingers jus can’t wait to b home with my fam n give my mother a big hug coz she is my rock don’t no wa I would do without her.”

Dean Brennan, who was jailed for six years and eight months at Liverpool Crown Court, after admitting the aggravated taking of a vehicle and assisting an offender after the death of four-year-old Violet-Grace Youens.
(Image: Merseyside Police/PA Wire)

The ECHO understands the posts disappeared from the social media account after they were brought to the attention of the MoJ this week.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable and we are taking immediate action. We are clear that those who break the rules will be punished and can face extra time behind bars.

“We are taking decisive action to find and block mobile phones in prison, including a £2m investment in detection wands and legislation to block phones from being in prisons.”

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