A MAN has been charged over a collision involving a bicycle which left a nine-year-old little girl gravely ill.

Leila Crofts was left fighting for life after the collision during the summer on a pedestrian crossing near Branksome Chine beach.

Police said a 38-year-old Bournemouth man, Philip Douglas Benwell, had been charged with wanton and furious cycling.

He is due to appear before Bournemouth magistrates on Tuesday October 29.

Leila was crossing Pinecliff Road on Friday July 26, at around 4.30pm, when she was involved in a collision with a pedal cycle.

She was taken to Southampton General Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Her family kept a vigil by her bedside and asked for people's prayers to be with Leila.

Leila, from Sandbanks, lives with mum Chanine Boulton, dad Darren Crofts and her younger sister. It was thought she was being looked after by an au pair at the time of the collision.

Witnesses and RNLI lifeguards rushed to give first aid to Leila after the collision, which happened on a sunny day when the area around Branksome Chine was busy with holiday-makers and children on school holidays.

Leila remained in critical condition for some time in Southampton's paediatric intensive care unit. The following month, her condition was said to be “improving” and Dorset Police said there was expected to be a “positive outlook” to her condition.

  •  The offence of wanton and furious cycling dates from an 1861 act of parliament, the Offences Against the Person Act, later amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1948.

The act says anyone found to “do or cause to be done any bodily harm” by “furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect” can go to prison for up to two years.