In an extraordinary act of compassion, a mother whose toddler died when she was crushed to death by a reversing van has said: "Our hearts go out to the driver. We do not wish him any malice."
Melissa McKay added: "What happened on that awful day was an accident. We hope he can get over what happened and move on with his life."
Melissa's heart-rending statement was read out during the inquest into 20-month-old Poppy Boothroyd's death.
Huddersfield Coroner's Court heard that Poppy was told to wait outside on the path while her mother's friend, who was looking after her, nipped back to the house.
But when she looked back, the little girl was under the wheels of a white Transit van.
West Yorkshire, Coroner Tim Ratcliffe recorded a verdict of accidental death, ruling that van driver Steven Weir would not have been able to see the child due to her tiny size.
The court heard that on January 9 this year, Jessica McDonagh was babysitting Poppy when she decided she was going to take her to a park on the way back from visiting a shop.
She said: "'I feel so guilty about what's happened."
Mr Weir told the court that he had been at neighbour Lynn Richardson's house fixing her telephone line. Once he finished, he went out to his van, logged the job as finished and started up the van.
He told the court he looked in both his side mirrors and saw nothing. Because the road was a cul-de-sac in a horseshoe shape and he was blocked in by other cars, he needed to turn his van - which had no window in the back - to be able to exit the road.
"I was driving no more than five miles per hour," he said. "The next thing I knew, someone was banging on my van.
"I didn't know what had happened. But then I looked round - and I saw the little girl lying on the road."
Coroner Ratcliffe, recording a cause of death as severe head injuries, added: "'Poppy was clearly a healthy and happy child who did not always do as she was told.
"She was probably mature for her age. She was certainly capable of understanding any instructions but she was equally capable of deciding that there was something distracting her attention.
"She was looking forward to going out with her mum's best friend. Poppy clearly had lots of things on her mind.
"When they reached the outside of the house, Jessica told her to stay put but it appears that Poppy didn't.
"It's not entirely clear what happened but I believe the evidence is consistent with Poppy moving from the place where she was asked to stay, round the back of the van.
"I find it was not possible for the driver to see Poppy at the time, bearing in mind how quickly it happened, where the van was placed, how the van was designed and the mirrors.
"I find no responsibility or blame to anyone involved in this incident at all.
"Her injuries were clearly so severe that for a little girl like her they weren't survivable."
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