By Daniel Jae Webb

A Cirencester drug driver who was using his mobile when he knocked down an 11-year-old girl has been spared jail.

Kwik Fit worker James Groves, 25, struck the youngster as he drove past Kingsdown School in Swindon in a company-owned Volkswagen Crafter van on March 25 last year.

Travelling at 6mph over the 20mph speed limit, the father-of-one knocked down the girl as she stepped into the road shortly before 3pm.

The van was fitted with a front-facing dashcam and an interior CCTV camera which captured the incident - showing that Groves was clutching an open packet of crisps with one hand and using his docked mobile phone with his other.

The footage also showed that the steering wheel was controlled only by his left hand - which was closed in a fist, rather than open.

Prosecutor Keith Ballinger told Swindon Magistrates' Court on Tuesday the schoolgirl was rushed to hospital with head injuries.

Although they weren't as serious as first thought, she did need stitches to her eye and was left bruised head-to-toe.

Groves also failed a roadside drug swipe before providing an evidential sample with a reading of 2.6µg of cannabis per litre of blood. The legal limit is 2µg.

Reading from the victim's statement to police, Mr Ballinger said the girl was "still feeling overwhelmed by the whole incident" and regularly feels "shooting pains".

She said that she was worried about going back to school and crossing the road.

Mark Glendenning, defending, said his client is "mortified at what had happened".

He added: "My client won't put any blame on the girl, but she simply steps out into the road without looking.

"It's arguable whether he would have been able to stop even if he was looking at the road."

Mr Glendenning said his client was no longer working for Kwik Fit.

Addressing his cannabis use, the solicitor said Groves was self-medicating for mental health issues he was suffering from.

The defendant, of Haygarth Close, was sentenced having previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and driving whilst under the influence of cannabis.

Magistrates handed down an eight-week prison term suspended for 18 months.

He was also banned from driving for two years, told to complete a mental health treatment requirement and 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days, and pay costs of £85 and a surcharge of £128.