Orangeman accused of driving into crowd 'hit them like skittles', court hears
An Orangeman who drove his car into a crowd of protesting nationalists over a banned loyalist parade almost two years ago hit them “like skittles”, his trial has heard.
The claim was made by the first person to be struck by the car, Roisin McGlone.
She told Belfast Crown Court that she “had a fear” the incident could have turned into a similar episode to what happened to the “two corporals” who were abducted and killed by the IRA in March 1988 in west Belfast.
Mrs McGlone, who is also an independent member of the Policing Board, had gone to the Ardoyne shop fronts in north Belfast in her role as a community mediation worker with 20 years’ experience dealing with protests and parades.
John Alexander Aughey (63), 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.
Mrs McGlone told the jury of eight women and four men that prior to the matter involving Ms Clawson, two other incidents happened on the road.
“There was a silver car being driven by a young man. I didn’t see it myself but I was told that as he passed the protesters he started shouting. I heard a lot of noise and commotion.
“There was another incident of involving somebody wearing a hat with a flag in it. Police dealt with these incidents.”
In relation to Aughey’s red Nissan Pulsar car, Mrs McGlone recalled hearing “some noise to my right...I could hear shouting back from a car at members of the public.
“There was an exchange of some kind but because of the level of noise I just don’t know what was said.
“I heard an engine revving. When I first saw it, it was facing up the Crumlin Road. It was then reversing and then moving forward.”
Mrs McGlone told the jury that she saw that the driver of the Nissan had has arm on the window which was down and noticed a “red and blue embroidery on his shirt” and believed he was either a bandsman or a member of the Orange Order.
“My senses immediately went up. This was a very volatile situation,” she said.
“My immediate thought was for the driver. I noticed one of the crowd move slightly forward towards the right side of the car. I moved very quickly and put my hands up.”
Asked by prosecution counsel Neil Connor QC to explain her actions, the mediation worker said she shouted at the crowds with her hands up: ‘Don’t do this. Move back.”
She said she then noticed a “RiverRock plastic water bottle being thrown from the back of the crowd and flying through the air.”
“I noticed a very young boy, about 15, kick the driver’s wheel. And that’s when I moved forward and said: ‘Right. Time to move in here’.
“I moved right in front of the people and put my hands out. At this point I was focused on the crowd, not the car. Then I just got him from behind.
“I was the first person that the car hit. It came right behind me and took me off my feet and I banged down on the ground. Two members of the crowd grabbed me underneath my arms.
“I looked to my left and I just saw the car going down the road like skittles. It was just like skittles.”
Mrs McGlone said she was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital and was treated for a fracture to her wrist.
Under cross examination from defence QC Greg Berry, Mrs McGlone was asked for her thoughts on when saw the bandsman or Orangeman in the car.
“My immediate thought was: ‘My goodness. What is he doing here’,” she added.
Asked if she had concerns for him, she replied: “As a human being, of course it did occur to me. My concern was that he was exposed because of what he was wearing.”
She confirmed to the court that during her statement to police, she said that she had a “deep feeling of fear” as the image came to mind as she recalled the incident of the “two corporals” some years.
Corporals Derek Wood and David Howes, who were members of the Royal Corps of Signals, were abducted and murdered after running into and IRA funeral in March 1988 in west Belfast.
The jury also heard her son Colm McGlone, a freelance photographer and videographer, who had drove his mum to the area and stayed to record events.
He said that the driver of the car was “shouting at the crowd and the crowd was shouting back towards him. I didn’t hear what was said but it wasn’t pleasant”.
Under cross examination, Mr McGlone told the court: “I saw him shouting in an animated manner in response to the crowd. I could see his lips move but I couldn’t hear what he said. It was fairly clear he was shouting.”
Earlier in the proceedings, a witness gave live link up evidence from Perth in Western Australia.
Ciara Moss told the jury she was present on the road when she noticed the red Nissan car starting to reverse and said the crowd were shouting: ’What’s he doing?’.
She added: “I saw the car coming towards me and it hit me on the left side and I was then on the ground. The back wheel was coming towards my face. I actually thought it was going to hit me.”
Ms Moss said that as she lay on the ground she “saw a girl underneath the car. She was flat on the floor. I was shouting that there was somebody underneath the car but nobody was listening”.
Another witness, John O’Hara, told the jury that he remembered seeing the car and “people being scooped onto the bonnet of the car”.
The trial continues.
Belfast Telegraph Digital