An Ulster schoolgirl who died after a serious road accident had been in a car travelling at 90mph on the wrong side of the road, their inquest heard yesterday.
Promising young amateur actress Jamie-Lee Rooney (15) of Springfield Park, Belfast and Paul McCrory (22) of Gransha Drive, Belfast were killed two years ago after a collision involving a car and a taxi in west Belfast.
The tragedy occurred on the Falls Road on December 18, 2005, when a white Vauxhall Cavalier being driven by the schoolgirl's cousin hit a Mercedes taxi.
Belfast Coroner's Court heard yesterday that - in what the coroner said " can only be described as madness" - the car was being "driven at high speeds on the wrong side of the road" by Thomas Anthony McCartney, (23), a cousin of Jamie-Lee.
He was jailed for nine years and banned from driving for 20 years in March this year.
Jamie-Lee's mother Marguerite McCaughey told Belfast Coroner's Court that her daughter was "a very happy child", who had won numerous awards for drama.
She added that Jamie-Lee, who attended St Rose's High School, loved singing and "always wanted to be the centre of attraction".
The inquest also heard that Jamie-Lee never missed a prison visit to her father Bernard Rooney, who is serving a 15-year sentence for armed robbery.
"Jamie-Lee loved life. She was very happy and loved to socialise," her mother said.
"What really bothers me is why Jamie-Lee got into that car. She didn't like driving fast."
The driver of the taxi, which was carrying five passengers when the smash occurred, said he saw the other car "flying" towards him. He said that he hadn't been wearing a seat belt.
Conor Lewsley, who was in McCartney's car at the time of the collision, said that none of the five passengers had been wearing seat belts.
He told the inquest that McCartney was driving at "about 90mph".
He added: "Everyone in the car was screaming, including myself, at him to slow down."
It emerged that Jamie-Lee, who was travelling in the front passenger seat of the vehicle, was alive for a short time after the accident.
Witness Martin McMahon, who attended the scene of the accident, told the inquest he had felt a faint pulse, but the young girl was pronounced dead on arrival at Belfast Royal Victoria Hospital at 2.50am.
Mr McMahon also said that he had comforted Paul - a passenger in the middle of the back seat - who was the last person to be extracted from the car.
The 22-year-old was taken to hospital and survived for a further three hours, but collapsed and died at 5am.
Belfast coroner Suzanne Anderson ruled that the cause of death in the case of Jamie-Lee was multiple injuries sustained in the collision.
Paul, she established, died from the effects of a severe chest injury.
Miss Anderson said they had been put in an "unbelievably dangerous situation" by the driver of the car.
She said: "He displayed a disregard for the safety of his passengers and indeed all other road users that night."
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph after the inquest Jamie-Lee's mother Marguerite said: "I'm just in too much shock."
Her sister Maureen Lawlor added: "It was just awful hearing about all her injuries. I can't believe it."