The mother of a Glengormley teenager says she has been left "devastated" by an 18-month sentence for a speeding driver who left her "broken" son in a wheelchair and unable to talk.
Cameron Taggart was 14 years old when he was knocked down by Megan Anderson (25) on October 18, 2017.
She had accelerated in her Audi TT from traffic lights in Glengormley, hitting the schoolboy at 59mph as he crossed the road in a 30mph zone.
Last week, she received an 18-month sentence with half to be served in custody and the rest on licence.
Cameron's injuries were described in court as "catastrophic and life-changing" meaning he will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life.
Judge Patricia Smyth accepted Ms Anderson was "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.
A defence barrister added she was "riven with remorse" about the consequences for the teenager and his family.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, Kate Taggart said she was angered by the sentence and recalled the horror of realising her son had been hit.
"It's not really good is it? Nine months for leaving a child broken, he'll never be the same again," Cameron's mother said.
"She can get on with her life after doing her nine months. She can do whatever she wants to do, Cameron doesn't have that choice."
Confined to a wheelchair, Cameron can move his arms and legs but is unable to walk or speak.
Due to his care needs, he now lives in an adapted bungalow with a "lovely" foster family who also have a son with cerebral palsy.
Mrs Taggart visits him several times a week along with his siblings Andrew (21) and Trisha (19).
On the day of the accident, the family had already been in mourning for six months after the death of Mrs Taggart's husband Ian.
She said Cameron was a normal teenager who loved playing football with his friends in Glengormley park.
"I had spoken to Cameron as he was walking out of our estate to the shops. I told him I would see him shortly as I knew he didn't mess about."
She continued: "It was actually my daughter Trisha who heard the ambulances and the helicopter. She turned around and said 'mummy, something's happened to Cameron' and she ran out of the house.
"My other son Andrew ran out with no shoes on and I went out after him and there was Cameron.
"By this stage there was two paramedics around him and a doctor from the Air Ambulance working on him, it wasn't a pretty sight.
"They had to cut his clothes off which I had to identify. I was just thinking 'let him live'.
"He died twice out on the road that day and I didn't have much hope for him at all, he spent eight weeks in intensive care.
"We had to believe that Cameron was going to pull through, we put our faith in him and prayed to God he would just start breathing on his own.
"I didn't want to be switching off anything. The fact that he's even here today is a miracle but that's thanks to the paramedics and the police who were there."
When Cameron's eyes finally opened it was still unclear what he could understand.
"He basically just lay there with his eyes open and with a trachea (a tube in the windpipe which aids breathing) even though he was breathing on his own. It was just horrible not knowing and to see his wee broken body," Mrs Taggart said. Today, the family are focused on helping Cameron improve his communication.
"He's not talking but we hope he will start. He grunts and he groans and you need to make eye contact with him.
"You can usually tell how he's feeling. As his family we can sort of read him, if you ask him he'll hold your hand or give you a hug.
"He understands everything, but he just can't talk back to you."
She added: "I think he realises what has happened because I've told him 'you were hit by a car going 60mph, that's why you're like this, but we have to try and get you better'."
The family waited 28 months until Ms Anderson was sentenced.
"I think it's quite ridiculous actually," Mrs Taggart said.
"It's been postponed, been put back about four times. It's been a long, long haul. I don't think I could speak to that girl - she walked past us in court with her handcuffs on and that was a pretty good sight to see actually.
"For her to do this, for the sake of keeping to the speed limit: 59mph in a 30mph zone? She said she didn't understand how she was going that fast, but if you're driving you should know what you're doing.
"You're basically in charge of a weapon when you get behind the wheel of a car."
On the effect the ordeal has had on the wider family, she said: "It's been devastating. I lost my husband in April 2017 and six months later I'm standing at my son's bedside in intensive care. The children were just getting over the death of their dad when all this happened. 2017 is just a year I want to forget."
She added she was proud of how Andrew and Trisha have coped.
"We've all had our ups and downs and my daughter and I have had counselling. Andrew will do it in his own time.
"People are sometimes afraid to talk to me about it in case it upsets me. But the way I look at it is if you're asking about Cameron it means you're thinking about him and it means the world that people haven't forgotten about him."
A spokesperson for the office of the Lord Chief Justice said: "Sentencing is a matter for each individual judge after consideration of the specific circumstances of each case.
"In calculating the appropriate sentence for the offence, the judge will have considered a range of factors specific to that case including the seriousness of the offence, the offender's previous convictions, aggravating and mitigating factors, whether the offender pleaded guilty and at what stage in the process (a guilty plea at an early stage will attract a greater discount), the relevant law including the maximum sentence which the court can impose and any sentencing guidelines relevant to the offence committed."
They continued: "The defendant's first appearance before the Magistrates Court was on August 1, 2019 and she was committed to the Crown Court on the same day. The defendant pleaded guilty to count one on September 18, 2019 and the sentence was delivered on February 28, 2020."