A speeding driver who was “showing off” in a borrowed car when he killed school girl Lillian Groves has been sentenced to eight months in prison.

John Page, 36, from New Addington, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and to causing death while driving without insurance. He was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court this afternoon.

Lillian Groves was just 14 when she was tragically killed by Page 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 in the garden playing football with her younger brother Olly, watching planes fly over from the Biggin Hill Air Show at about 7pm.

She went to fetch the ball as it bounced into the road and was hit by Page who was doing 43mph in a 30mph zone. She died of her injuries later that night in hospital surrounded by her family.

The horrific accident was witnessed by a number of children who had been playing outside on the fine day. One nine-year-old told police he saw smoke coming from the screeching tyres as Page slammed on brakes during the collision causing two sets of skid marks on the road .

The court heard Page got out of the car and dialled 999 but "the shock and panic was such that a witness described him as being unable to speak and had to take over the phone to call emergency services".

The 36-year-old landscape gardener had been smoking cannabis that day and half a joint was found by police on the dash board of the car after the accident and traces of the drug were found in his blood.

Judge Stephen Waller said: “These traces were not at a level that you could have been charged with the more serious offence of driving while under the influence of drugs.

“You were taking a risk as to how the cannabis would affect you.”

Judge Waller said he “had no doubt” that Lillian looked both ways before going into the road to fetch the football but would have been unable to see Page approaching because of the way the road sloped.

He told the gardener: “You remained at the scene to your credit. I accept at the time you were genuinely shocked.” However he said any careful driver would have known there might be children playing games on the grass at the roadside.

He said: “These are always very sad cases, there is no sentence I can pass which is going to reduce the familys’ pain.

“At the time you were going too fast as you must have known because you were showing off this car.

“You were a local man you knew full well that you should not have been driving as fast as you were.”

He was sentenced to eight months in prison for causing death by dangerous driving and six months concurrently for causing death while driving without insurance.

Judge Waller told Page he would serve half the full term of the sentences. He has been disqualified from driving for two years.

Through his lawyer the killer apologised to Lillian’s devasted family who filled the court room to hear his sentence.

Roderick James, defending, said Page expressed “his deepest and most sincere regrets and apologies”.

"Mr Page can't even begin to think of the distress and pain the accident has caused the family.

"He realises how hollow his words must ring."

Judge Waller praised the dignity of Lillian’s devastated family as Page was taken down to the cells at Croydon Crown Court.