The parents of a boy knocked down and killed by a mentally ill woman today said they had forgiven her after she was detained indefinitely in a secure hospital.
Mother-of-two Hannah Saaf, 28, was high on cannabis and travelling at more than twice the 30mph speed limit before she mowed down 11-year-old Sam Riddall, whose family used to live in Birmingham.
Saaf went on the run for nine days after she mounted the kerb in her white Ford Focus estate in Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, on May 1.
Sam was instantly killed as he walked home with a group of friends from a church youth service.
After a heavily tearful Saaf was handed a hospital detention order at Bristol Crown Court, Sam's father Martin Riddall read a statement outside the building with his wife Rachel by his side.
Mr Riddall, a former RAF mechanic, who works for Campus Crusade for Christ International, said: "In four days' time we celebrate Christmas and it's going to be our first Christmas without our Sam.
"It's going to be very hard for us indeed, because we still miss him very much.
"At Christmas we remember that God sent his son Jesus into the world to bring peace.
"It's the same God that is giving us the strength and helping us to forgive Hannah for the terrible thing she's done to us by killing our son.
"It's not easy, it's not going to be easy. But with God's help we know that it is possible."
The Riddalls lived in Kings Heath, south Birmingham, before moving to Bristol three years ago.
Opening the case, prosecutor Robin Shellard recounted the events leading up to Sam's tragic death to the court.
Sam was walking away from church with the father of one his friends, Dr Peter Harbord, who was also clipped by Saaf's out of control car.
"As he walked he became aware of a car coming towards them," he said. "Dr Harbord was aware the speed limit was 30mph so was shocked to see the car heading towards them at speed."
Mr Shellard went on: "Dr Harbord could hear the boys screaming behind him but was unaware Sam had been hit.
"He found Sam close to the door being administered first aid. Due to his medical training he realised straight away he was dead."
Mr Shellard said an accident investigation conducted by the police revealed Saaf was driving no less than 61mph before she hit the brakes, leaving 59.54 metre long skidmarks across the road.
He said the DVLA revoked Saaf's licence over concerns about her mental health in February.
Between February 2008 and April 2009 she was detained under the mental health act and discharged four times, Mr Shellard said.
Mr Shellard said Saaf, of St Michael's Hill, Bristol, had been smoking cannabis and listening to music with friend Caleb Morris and had no sleep the night before the tragedy.
She fled the scene after the collision, and a nine-day police hunt for her ended when officers tracked her down to a field in Somerset.
Officers arrested Saaf on May 10 in the village of Publow, where she had been sleeping in a barn.
Mr Shellard went on: "After the crash Hannah Saaf disappeared. She was located in countryside south of Bristol.
"At the police station, she sat down and burst into tears and said 'I've stolen a life'."
Saaf made no comment during police questioning, but handed over a statement prepared by her solicitor, in which she admitted driving the vehicle.
She said: "Since I've had the accident I've been alone and very scared. I've found myself in a grave and serious situation and felt out of my depth.
"I'm deeply upset with the loss of Sam's life, as a mother myself I feel greatly for his parents. I feel deep remorse and am very sorry for what has happened."
Saaf, who appeared dressed in a grey pinstripe suit, sobbed uncontrollably throughout the hearing.
Before passing sentence and banning Saaf from driving for five years, Judge Simon Darwall-Smith said if it were not for her mental state he would have handed her "a very substantial custodial sentence".
He said: "This offence has all the aggravating features in this offence.
"You were not permitted to drive at all, you were clearly under the influence of cannabis, and you were doing so while driving twice the speed limit allowed.
"Finally, you left the scene having killed the victim.
"There's no sentence a court can pass that will ever compensate for a tragic loss such as this.
"I have read the victim impact statements and they make heartrending reading."
Saaf previously pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, driving not in accordance with a licence, failing to stop at an accident, failing to report an accident and driving without insurance.