A double-death driver, who killed his teenage cousin, should spend the rest of his life behind bars, his heartbroken aunt said.
At Belfast Crown Court yesterday afternoon, Thomas Anthony McCartney pleaded guilty to two charges of causing death by dangerous driving, six of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving and also to driving without insurance.
His 15-year-old cousin, Jamie- Lee Rooney and Paul McCrory (22) were killed in the smash, which occurred on December 18 last year when the Vauxhall Cavalier McCartney was driving collided with a Mercedes taxi near St Louise's Comprehensive School.
And, as the Rooney family prepares for the first anniversary of the fatal crash on Monday, they were dealt a further devastating blow.
Jamie-Lee's father, Bernard Rooney - who is serving a 15-year sentence for armed robbery - was told last night that his application for compassionate leave on Monday to spend a few hours with his wife, Marguerite, and eight-year-old twin daughters, Karla and Christina, has been refused.
Speaking at the family home yesterday afternoon, Mrs Rooney said: " Thomas has been out on bail since this has happened. Armed robbery is wrong, but it's as though they are saying that money is more important than a life because Bernard wasn't even allowed out of prison to go to his own daughter's funeral. Thomas is my nephew and this has torn my family apart. He could be sent to prison for 15 years but, to be honest, I don't think he should ever get out.
"You never get over something like this. I have tried to kill myself four times. I attempted suicide at the weekend because I don't see a future anymore. All I see is blackness. I'm trying to stay because if I go the twins will have no-one because their daddy is in prison.
"Every day is a struggle. The only reason I got dressed today was because I had to go out to put a memorial in the newspaper for Jamie-Lee. I can't even put up a Christmas tree. This is what happens when you lose someone you love so much you can't even breathe."
McCartney (24), of Ballymurphy Crescent in west Belfast, was released on continuing bail pending the preparation of psychiatric reports. He is due to be sentenced in the new year.
However, Mrs Rooney said she does not believe her nephew has shown any remorse for the accident.
"Thomas has never come to me and said he was sorry. He didn't come to Jamie-Lee's funeral or even send a card.
"I think it would have helped if he could have told me why she was in the car. We had been having problems because of her being a teenager and I wouldn't allow her to stay out late. The last conversation I had with her was an argument because she rang me up and told me she was staying at a friend's house.
"I can't really say her name without crying and neither can the twins. She was such a special girl, so talented and she had her whole life in front of her. I hope one day we can all talk about her but I'll never accept what happened to her."