Belfast Telegraph

Crowd crash Orangeman signs DUP councillor's vote papers

Controversy: John Aughey
Controversy: John Aughey
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

An Orangeman jailed for dragging a schoolgirl under the wheels of his car after he drove into a group of people at a Belfast parades flashpoint has signed the election nomination form of a DUP councillor.

John Aughey was jailed for one year after colliding with a crowd of pedestrians at the Ardoyne shopfronts in July 2015.

The 16-year-old girl was struck by Aughey's vehicle and became trapped underneath, fracturing her collarbone, pelvis and ankle.

Dale Pankhurst, who is running for re-election in Belfast's Oldpark ward, said it was a personal decision to ask Mr Aughey to sign his forms.

"John Aughey has been a long-term family friend and neighbour," Mr Pankhurst explained.

"I have known him for many years and I thought it nice to ask him to sign my nomination papers.

"I do not think for one minute this will deter anyone from contacting me regarding constituency issues. My record speaks for itself."

Mr Pankhurst also pointed out that a number of convicted criminals were standing and canvassing for Sinn Fein.

The news emerged as it was revealed a convicted drug dealer had gone on the campaign trail with, and signed nominations for, Gillian Simpson, another DUP candidate in Oldpark.

Mark Officer was sentenced to 20 months in prison in 2015 after cocaine worth nearly £1m was seized when a car was stopped by police in Belfast.

Officers later searched a house in the Shankill area linked to Officer and found a significant amount of cocaine.

A DUP spokesperson said that Officer wanted to put his conviction behind him and give something back to the community.

"Mr Officer was previously convicted of a criminal offence, for which he has expressed remorse," the spokesperson said.

"He wishes to move forward and play a positive role in the community. As part of this, he has assisted DUP candidates on a voluntary basis."

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