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Jurors' shock as they watch CCTV footage of Orangeman hitting teenage girl with his car

By Michael Donnelly

Jurors in the trial of an Orangeman who drove into a crowd of nationalists protesting over a banned loyalist parade "gasped" out loud at seeing the moment his Nissan car collided with a teenage girl, who ended up under the vehicle.

One juror even clasped her hands over her mouth as the police CCTV footage was played for the first time to the Belfast Crown Court trial of 63-year-old John Alexander Aughey.

Aughey, from Brae Hill Park, Belfast, denies a total of six charges, including dangerous driving causing grievous bodily injury to a then 16-year-old Phoebe Clawson on July 13, 2015, at the north Belfast flashpoint at the Ardoyne shops.

Later, the jury watched a taped interview of the teen as she broke down weeping and sobbing in a wheelchair as she described to detectives the instant Aughey's car caught her from behind and drove over her legs, trapping her.

Recovering in her Ardoyne home after two weeks in hospital, following a five and a half hour operation on her "shattered pelvis" and fractured collar bone and ankle, a tearful young Phoebe told police she thought the car might move again and she "would have been dead".

In the 24-minute police video-taped interview, the teenager explained that after being struck by the red Nissan Pulsar car, she could hear people and police shouting as she lay under the car. She was "trying to move" as her head was by the wheel of the car and she felt "if it went over me one more time I would have been dead".

Ms Clawson later explained that she had been running away from the car and turned her head to look back when it hit her in the back and she fell to the ground "and then I went under". She ended up face down on the road. It was at this stage the police came and turned the car over.

One officer told her "everything was going to be okay", as she asked for a priest and her "mummy". The teenager said at the time she was "panicking", repeating again that she "thought I was going to die".

Under cross-examination from defence QC Greg Berry, Ms Clawson said she remembered a bottle being thrown at the car before the driver began turning his car, the engine revving. However, while she said the bottle had hit the windscreen of the vehicle, Mr Berry pointed out that CCTV footage showed the bottle bouncing off the roof of the Nissan.

Ms Clawson, who also described Aughey as "laughing" while sitting in traffic in his car, said this was the only missile she saw being thrown, adding that she did not see anyone approach the car beforehand.

Later, Mr Berry suggested that far from laughing or smiling, Aughey "was extremely worried about what was going to happen to him when in his car".

Yesterday, Judge Smyth told the jury of eight women and four men that it was not the prosecution case, nor have they alleged, that the defendant "caused any of these injuries deliberately".

The trial continues today, when the jury will hear evidence via a live link-up from Australia from another teenager who was also injured.

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