An 11-year-old girl who was left badly injured after being hit by a vehicle in a suspected hit-and-run incident on Christmas Day is still recovering, a court heard.

Katie Ruffles was crossing the road outside the Burton garage when a car hit her on December 25 last year, Leicester Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor David Ruks-Pedersen said: “The lay-by is between two roundabouts. The boys are watching the screen so they are not visible to the driver.

“It is dark, it is foggy.”

The driver of the vehicle stopped at the scene and was taken into custody, but was released without charge until last month.

He had fled the scene in the panic, leaving his car at the garage, the court heard.

Also at Leicester Crown Court, the defendant, a student at City of Leicester College, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.

Judge Jeffrey Pegden sentenced him to nine months in jail, suspended for two years, in an indication of the severity of the offence.

The driver, 21, of Ruskley Road, Burton, on December 24, leaving Katie with life-changing injuries, including internal bleeding and head and leg injuries.

Judge Pegden said: “You drove at speed across the slip road and the pavement, hitting at least one other pedestrian, and you drove on, and left her with serious injuries, possibly life-changing.

“A police officer who saw you from the road was convinced that you had careered into the young woman because you were too distracted.

“You left a crater in the grass and a smear of blood over the pavement.”

Peter Freeman, defending, said the defendant had previously been prosecuted for causing actual bodily harm and sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He said: “This is what happened next. The defendant was caught up in the police investigation, he appeared at the court on six occasions.”

In closing remarks, he said: “He has learned a lesson through the judicial process. He sought medical attention himself – in a distressed state – but he was not treated for any injury and was discharged.”

Judge Pegden said: “He has expressed remorse and regret, this is clearly the situation that he finds himself in.”

The court heard that at the time of the incident, the defendant was a first-year engineering student at the Burton College, but was now studying at City of Leicester College.

It was also claimed he was “impetuous” and “bored” after a night out and left his car at the garage after not completing the loan to buy it.

At sentencing, Judge Pegden said: “This is not a case where the defendant was a student.

“This was at 8.30pm, there was a young child on the pavement there was nobody and there were dark, foggy conditions.

“This young girl has seen your faces. It’s not as if you knew the girl and therefore you knew nothing of her. She thought you were going to the garage to buy an engine check.”

After leaving the garage, Katie’s mother ran to the scene to find her daughter’s body slumped against a lamppost.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Katie’s father said: “She said: ‘I’m breathing.’ I don’t know how.”

Katie told her mother: “Please don’t wake me up from this pain.”

Her mother, Nicola, said: “I’m going to miss her forever.”

Katie has been left with a scar, pictured, which is taking several weeks to heal.

She will require further surgery to help alleviate the chronic pain she currently suffers.

The court heard that Katie is also now diagnosed with a hearing deficiency that also affects her speech and walking.

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