The driver charged with killing schoolgirl Lillian Groves has pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

John Page, 35, also admitted to driving without insurance at Croydon Crown Court yesterday morning.

The 14-year-old was tragically killed when she was hit by a car on her mother's birthday on June 26 last year. The accident happened yards from her front door on Headley Drive in New Addington.

Lillian had been outside playing with her younger brother, watching planes fly over from the Biggin Hill Air Show at about 7pm.

The court heard she went to fetch a football from the road and was hit by Page who was doing 43mph in a 30mph zone.

James Dawes, prosecuting, said Page did not brake until he had struck the schoolgirl.

He said: “There are very long skid marks after the point of contact.”

She hit the windscreen and was rushed to Kings College Hospital where doctors fought in vain to save her life. She died shortly after midnight on Sunday morning.

The 35-year-old’s defence lawyer told the judge, Page would not have been able to avoid hitting the schoolgirl even if he had been travelling at 30mph.

Lillian Groves’s devastated family filled the courtroom to hear Page’s guilty plea.

Through his lawyer he told the Groves he “expressed his deepest and most sincere regrets and apologies”.

Roderick James, defending, said: “He fully understands what little comfort his words can provide but he wishes to express them to the family in court.”

In a tribute to his beloved daughter, Gary Groves, 40, said: “She was daddy's little princess. She was put on a pedestal and she could do no wrong, and everyone knew it too.

“She could be quite a cranky little madam, very much a drama queen with a wicked sense of humour.”

Lillian's family remember her a a keen actress who loved singing, playing parts in many of her school plays and talent contests.

She doted on her little brother, Olly, who she used to watch play football every Saturday in the Little League.

Lillian's mother, Natasha Groves, 41, said: “She relished going up and watching Olly play football every Saturday. She'd be up there in the rain, teeth chattering, cheering him on.

“Wherever he was, she was always by his side."

Judge Warwick McKinnon, the Recorder of Croydon, told Page that a custodial sentence was not “out of the question”.

He will be sentenced in July.