An Orangeman accused of attacking nationalists in the manner of an Islamist terrorist attack has been found guilty of assault and causing grievous bodily harm.
The attack by John Aughey in July 2015, in which he ploughed his car into a nationalist protest in north Belfast, resulted in a teenage girl becoming trapped under his car.
After desperate efforts to save her life, Phoebe Clawson, then 16, survived with a fractured pelvis, ankle and collarbone in the crash.
The attack followed a Parades Commission ruling not to allow a sectarian parade to proceed past the nationalist community in the Greater Ardoyne area.
Aughey had claimed he crashed into the protestors “in a blind panic” because he believed his car had come under attack.
The first person to be struck by the car, Roisin McGlone, said the Orangeman hit them “like skittles”.
The independent member of the policing board, who was observing the protest, said she had noticed the Orangeman driving erratically near protestors and shouting. She said she was attempting to calm the situation when she was struck 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.”
Another victim of the attack, Ciara Moss, gave live link up evidence from Australia.
She said: “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 red Nissan car and “people being scooped onto the bonnet of the car”.
CCTV footage and stills from the incident showed injured teen Phoebe Clawson was thrown into the bonnet before landing in front of the vehicle. She was then dragged four meters whilst underneath the vehicle. After his car stopped, Aughey remained behind the wheel for 23 seconds before rescuers began to lift the vehicle to free Phoebe.
In an attempt to diffuse nationalist anger, both the PSNI and Sinn Fein claimed at the time that she had not been badly hurt. Jurors heard she spent weeks in hospital after a five-hour emergency operation to reconstruct her shattered pelvis.
Sentencing will take place after the summer recess in August, and Aughey was released on continuing bail.