A north Belfast woman who caused "catastrophic and lifelong injuries" to a schoolboy who she knocked down in her Audi TTS was jailed today.
Megan Anderson admitted causing the teenager grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving in Glengormley in October 2017.
He was 14 at the time of the collision and sustained multiples injuries including fractures and a traumatic brain injury.
Belfast Crown Court heard he will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life due to a "very significant neurological deficit."
Anderson (25), from Robina Street in Belfast, was handed an 18-month sentence which will be divided equally between nine months in custody and nine on licence. She was also banned from driving for two years.
Before passing sentence, Judge Patricia Smyth heard that Anderson had been sitting at traffic lights on the Antrim Road at the junction of the Ballyclare Road. She was the first in the queue of traffic when the lights turned green, and after accelerating, she hit the teenager as he crossed the road.
In the aftermath of the collision - which occurred at around 4.40pm on October 18, 2017 - a road expert determined she was driving at speeds of up to 59 mph in a 30 mph zone. Witnesses also reported that her car was 'revving loudly and accelerating heavily' before she drove from the lights 'very quickly.'
Prosecuting barrister David Russell said the teenager's mother spoke to her son just moments before the collision, when he told her he was going to the shop. She then heard the emergency services on the Antrim Road and ran to the scene.
Mr Russell said the teenager sustained "catastrophic and lifelong injuries."
Regarding the offence Anderson pleaded guilty to, Mr Russell said she was "driving at a greatly excessive speed in a built-up area", that she "accelerated from the traffic lights at speed", and that she "didn't appear to brake prior to the collision."
He added: "The driving was dangerous because of the surrounding circumstances, the busy area, her speed and the extent of the speed."
The prosecutor said Anderson had no previous convictions or motoring offences, and co-operated fully with the investigation.
Defence barrister Eilis McDermott QC said her client accepted the collision was caused by her speed.
Ms McDermott said: "She is riven with remorse. At the forefront of her mind is not her fate but the catastrophic consequences of her actions for this young man, his mother and the wider family.
"That's the case not just today but every day and indeed every night since this has occurred."
Anderson's barrister said the incident has had a significant impact on her mental health, and she has since been diagnosed with depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
There are no words to describe the catastrophe that occurred on that day.Judge Smyth
Pointing out that prior to the incident her client had been driving for five years and had a clean driving licence, Ms McDermott said Anderson "wishes she had died in the accident" instead of causing the injuries to the teenager that she did.
She concluded by saying there was "no doubt" Anderson felt "deep and enduring remorse".
During today's sentencing, Judge Smyth said: "There are no words to describe the catastrophe that occurred on that day."
Describing the injured teenager as a young man who had a full future ahead of him, the Judge said that due to his injuries it was "unlikely that he will ever be able to carry out even the basic tasks for himself" and will remain reliant on carers.
Noting that the incident has "deeply affected" every member of the teenager's family, Judge Smyth said he "has an awareness ... he can see, he can hear and he can communicate his likes and dislikes in his own way on picture cards."
She added the "physical, emotional and financial repercussions" on the teenager's family "simply cannot be overstated."
Anyone who drives dangerously, even for a matter of seconds, and causes serious injury or death as a consequence, will go to prisonJudge Smyth
Turning to Anderson, Judge Smyth said she also noted the impact the incident has had on both her and her family.
The Judge told Anderson "you are a young woman of good character who never intended to hurt anyone" but said her driving fell below the standard of any careful and competent driver.
Telling the north Belfast woman the only aggravating factor was excessive speed, Judge Smyth said she accepted her remorse was genuine.
Judge Smyth concluded by saying that whilst no sentence imposed could undo the damage, a custodial sentence was necessary to act as a deterrent.
Handing Anderson an 18-month sentence, Judge Smyth said: "Anyone who drives dangerously, even for a matter of seconds, and causes serious injury or death as a consequence, will go to prison - regardless or their previous good character or mitigation."
Investigating Officer, Sergeant Whiteside, said after the sentence was passed: "Two young lives have been irrevocably changed, along with those of their families and friends.
" The impact is also felt by the individuals who witnessed this awful collision, as well as the first responders at the scene.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the public who rendered immediate, life-saving first aid to Cameron and the ambulance crews who managed to stabilise him sufficiently for him to be moved to hospital for further vital treatment.
"This incident serves as a stark reminder to all of us of the potential consequences of dangerous and careless driving, or driving excess speed, and the terrible consequences that can wrought on the lives of those affected."