Leo Durrington: Owner of stolen van which struck three-year-old boy reveals 'heartache'
The owner of a stolen van, which struck a three-year-old boy and left him fighting for his life, has revealed he was "depressed for days" after discovering it was his vehicle involved.
Leo Durrington, who was three at the time of the accident, was walking along Wigan Road in Leigh on the morning of October 30, with his mother, when a speeding white Ford Transit ploughed into him, snatching him from his mother's hand and hurling him into the car park of the Tamar pub.
Related: Leo Durrington: Teens weeps in courtoom as they are sentencedRelated: Leo Durrington: Social media shock at teens' 'joke' sentences after hit-and-run in stolen vanThe driver, a 16-year-old boy, has been attempting to evade the police, who gave chase after spotting the stolen vehicle in Leigh Road, Leigh.
Taking a turn on to Wigan Road at full speed, the van struck little Leo, sending him flying 17m into the car park of the Tamar pub in Wigan Road.
He carried on driving, leaving the youngster for dead, and abandoned the car in Abram. He was arrested later that evening.
The van had been reported stolen the day before the horrific crime, by its owner Philip Worswick, a delivery driver from Abram.
It had been taken while he was out delivering parcels in Warrington Road.
He spoke of how the incident had affected his livelihood, and reacted strongly to the sentences given to the teenagers who recklessly drove his van into a little boy.
A 16-year-old boy, who admitted being at the wheel, was given a 12-month detention order, while a 15-year-old was given a referral order. They cannot be named because of their ages.
“That sentence is a complete disgrace,” Mr Worswick said.
"The disgust I felt after that verdict was nothing I have ever felt before, I felt let down by our laws. 12 months in a detention won't teach him anything he'll most likely get worse."
He added: "He (the driver) has traumatised Leo and his family, and pulled apart the life I was trying to build for myself after he stole my van while I was doing courier work.
"That disgusting act has given me nothing but heartache, stress, and left me in a financial mess. That van was my only way of living, stealing that caused a domino effect of trouble."
Mr Worswick revealed that as a result of his van being stolen, which contained around Â£5,000 in parcels, he lost his contract with the delivery firm he worked for.
"It only got worse after hearing the report about the collision with little three-year-old Leo," he said.
"I felt responsible for an act I didn't even do. That I was stupid enough to allow an awful person like that to get behind the wheel of my van and do that to a child. I was depressed for days, I even set up a fundraiser for Leo because I felt responsible. I couldn't get it out of my head for weeks."
Mr Worswick had also set up an appeal to give Leo a “get well basket” full of his favourite things - which garnered dozens of donations, and was delivered to him in hospital.
Leo, who turned four just day after the collision, remains in hospital to this day.
His mum and dad have been sleeping by his bedside every night.
His condition has “improved considerably”, but he still has some difficulty speaking and walking.