A woman who blacked out while driving and killed a young mother-of-two in a car crash has had her prison term more than doubled.
The Court of Appeal yesterday ordered Mary McLaughlin to serve 10 and a half months in jail after declaring the original sentence unduly lenient.
The 47-year-old must also complete the same period on licence once freed.
McLaughlin, from Dillons Avenue, Newtownabbey, was convicted of causing the death of Rebecca McManus, 27, by dangerous driving in 2010.
She was also found guilty of causing grievous bodily injury to four other people in the car she collided with at a motorway roundabout.
Earlier this year she was given a 15-month sentence at Belfast Crown Court, split between five months in jail and the rest on licence.
She was also banned from driving for 10 years.
Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory challenged the sentence, arguing that it should be tougher.
McLaughlin suffered a blackout at the wheel of her Vauxhall Zafira at the M5 roundabout in Newtownabbey, crashing into a Ford Focus carrying five friends from the Northern Regional College.
Rebecca McManus was in a back seat and killed instantly. The others were badly injured.
Witnesses said McLaughlin was slumped over the wheel and confused after the crash, asking what happened.
It was the prosecution case that she drove despite suffering no-warning blackouts.
McLaughlin, a mother-of-three, said she would not have driven if she did not feel it safe.
She claimed that despite repeat blackouts since 2004, due to a medical condition that led to her being retired from her job at the Northern Trust, she had come to know the signs of a coming attack.
In court, Mr McGrory said misinformation she gave about her condition showed higher culpability.
McLaughlin’s barrister, James Gallagher QC, argued his client believed she could drive safely. But Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan (above), with Lord Justice Coghlin and Mr Justice Maguire, identified aggravating factors: the serious injury to other victims as well as the death, and driving while knowing she had a condition which impaired her ability.
Sir Declan said: “No sentence can begin to reflect the enormous consequences of the loss of a young mother who had everything that life could offer to look forward to and the disruption to the lives of those injured.”
He said sentences were supposed to be a deterrent.
Sir Declan said: “We substitute a sentence of 10 and a half months in custody and the same period on licence.”
McLaughlin showed no emotion when led out of court back to jail.