Northern Ireland

Orangeman John Aughey guilty of injuring six with car

John Aughey was pictured at an earlier court appearance
Image caption John Aughey was pictured at an earlier court appearance

An Orangeman who "ploughed" into a crowd in north Belfast, trapping a teenage girl under his car, has been found guilty of injuring six people.

John Alexander Aughey, 63, will be sentenced for causing grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm and common assault at a later date.

Phoebe Clawson, then 16, sustained a fractured pelvis, ankle and collarbone in the crash in July 2015.

Two police officers were among the others injured.

It happened during a nationalist protest on 13 July, that followed a Parades Commission ruling not to allow an Orange lodge and flute bands to walk past Ardoyne shop fronts on their return journey.

Aughey, from Brae Hill Park in Belfast, claimed he was driving home after marching and had made a "U-turn" "in a blind panic" because he believed his car had come under attack by protesters.

Officers who were on duty described seeing the car strike Miss Clawson in the back before she disappeared under its front wheels.

They said the car "rose up" as it did so.

Aughey told the court: "I thought the crowd would get me and drag me out of the car or damage me while I was sitting in the car."

When asked why he did not get out of the car and walk to a police Landrover, Aughey said: "If I had got out of the car it would have been tantamount to committing suicide."

But a prosecution barrister said the issue was a simple one, in which Aughey had driven his car in a manner which was dangerous and which fell far short of what would have been expected from a competent and careful driver.

Following their verdicts, the trial judge praised the jury for dealing with what she described as "probably being one of the most difficult trials that any jury in Northern Ireland has been asked to decide upon".

The judge freed Aughey on bail until his next court appearance, but said that should not be taken as an indication of the sentence she would pass.