Footage of Orangeman’s car collision is screened

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

One juror 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 of 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 collarbone and ankle, a tearful 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 said after being struck by the red Nissan Pulsar, she could hear people shouting as she lay under the car.

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 also later said she had been running away from the car and turned her head to look back and then it hit her, and 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 ok”, 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 he 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, 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”.

On Thursday, 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 this morning, when the jury will hear evidence via a live link-up from Australia, about another teenager who was hurt.