THE mother of Danielle Beccan, the schoolgirl killed yards from her home in a drive-by shooting, told yesterday how she cradled her dying daughter in her arms at the scene of the attack.
Paula Platt said her last words to her daughter were "Come back to us - I will be waiting for you". Shortly afterwards, the 14-year-old died in hospital of a gunshot wound in the chest.
Mrs Platt, 32, said she had been left feeling numb by her daughter’s death after the shooting in the St Ann’s area of Nottingham on Saturday night.
Danielle was returning from the city’s annual Goose Fair with a group of friends when she was hit by one of several shots fired from a passing gold-coloured car.
The first news of the shooting came from Danielle’s friends who had gone with her to the fair. They ran to the family home and told Mrs Platt of the shooting.
"I grabbed my shoes and ran out of the door, even though I didn’t know where I was going," she said. "She was lying on the floor. I could see a bullet hole in her top.
"I knelt down beside her and she was closing her eyes. I told her to stay awake and keep conscious.
"She said she felt like she was dying. I said, ‘Just stay awake, stay awake’."
Danielle was conscious in hospital, said Mrs Platt, and managed to talk to her mother before she was taken into the resuscitation room, where she died.
"I spoke to her just before she went back into ‘resus’," said Mrs Platt. "I said, ‘I love you’. She said, ‘I love you too, mum’. I said, ‘Come back to us - I will be waiting for you’. She said, ‘I will, but I can’t talk. I’m in too much pain’.
"Those were the last words she said to me."
Nearly a week after the shooting, Mrs Platt said: "I just feel numb. There are no words that can describe how I feel.
"If you take the worst you could feel and multiply it by a million, it would not even come close."
Mrs Platt paid tribute to her "bright and beautiful" daughter who had a love of music and art, and she blamed poor parenting and society’s failures for what she described as gun crime spinning "out of control" in this country.
She said: "She was an amazing child. She was a typical teenager. Everybody has said how polite she was, bright and beautiful. She was a very bright girl.
"I always knew she could have touched the world. I never expected her to impact on the world like this."
The grieving mother branded her daughter’s killers "evil scum".
She said: "They have taken my beautiful child’s life. She is in a refrigerator in a morgue.
"They are not people. They are wicked, evil scum. Human beings do not behave like that.
"I bet they are still sleeping, walking, talking, laughing, breathing. My child is doing none of those things. That is why I am so angry.
"Every time they look in the mirror, I want Danielle’s face to look up at them."
Nottingham has seen an explosion of drug and gun crime in recent years. The situation is so bad that even the local chief constable, Steve Green, has said police were being swamped by gun and drug crime in the city.
Meanwhile, four of the five men arrested in connection with the killing of Danielle were released without charge yesterday.
Nottinghamshire detectives have been granted a 36-hour extension by magistrates to continue questioning the fifth man.
Detectives said they were still unable to explain why Danielle, or her friends, might have been targeted by gunmen, and they fear she was the victim of a random attack.