A MOTORIST who knocked down and killed an eight-year-old as she was on her way to see a Christmas lights display has been jailed for 40 months.

Businessman Jon-Paul Caruana, 25, was said to have sounded his horn and swerved as he tried to avoid hitting Emily Connor, who had been on her way to the Trafford Centre with grandmother Dorothy Simpson Weaver.

But Manchester Crown Court heard that Caruana's actions had only served to startle Emily, who was struck by the driver's Vauxhall Corsa in Monton Road on November 10, 2018.

Caruana's car struck a low wall beside the road and hit Emily for a second time, the court heard, causing fatal injuries.

Moments later Caruana was out of his car and could be heard shouting: "I've killed a child."

Prosecutors say the motorist, who had been in a hurry to get to work, was driving at 47mph in a 30mph zone when the collision occurred.

His partner, Yasmin Acir, who was in the car with his four-month-old son at the time of the crash, had earlier messaged a friend they were picking up to say that Caruana was "breaking speed barriers" in order to reach him.

Passing sentence after Caruana pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, Judge David Stockdale QC, Recorder of Manchester, said the incident had been caused by "grossly excessive speed" and the defendant's failure to react appropriately to the prevailing road conditions.

Judge Stockdale added: "This was a classic case of the grave consequences that follow from a bout of driving at grossly excessive speed in a residential area where pedestrians are about."

Caruana, of Lawndale Drive, Worsley, was also banned from driving for 56 months.

Gavin Howie, prosecuting, said Emily had been described by her parents, who are originally from the Swinton area, as "the glue which held our family together", doted upon by her older brothers Charles and Hugh.

Mr Howie told the court at the time of the incident Emily was being taken to the Trafford Centre by her grandmother, Mrs Weaver, to see the Christmas lights there.

The pair had boarded the wrong bus to get to the centre and were in the process of leaving that service and crossing the road when the tragedy happened, the court heard.

Mrs Weaver told police later she did not even appreciate the Corsa approaching until she felt Emily's hand break free from her grasp, then the next thing she recalled was seeing the girl lying in the road.

Richard Littler QC, defending, said: "Two families have been devastated as a result of this tragic accident.

"It is fully accepted that the devastation felt by Emily's family is far greater than the devastation for the defendant's."

Caurana was "inconsolable" during parts of his police interview and had shown genuine remorse since the collision, he added.

The defendant, who had no previous convictions, had been to lay flowers on the first anniversary of the accident, Mr Littler told the court, and had made contact with the Connor family's vicar at St Mark's in Swinton, to offer his contrition.

Caruana had been in a hurry to pick up a friend earlier in his journey, said Mr Littler, but had only been charged with dangerous driving on Monton Road itself.