Sunday 18 February 2018

Family of girl freed by police from under car during Belfast rioting lodge complaint - against police

Deborah McAleese

The family of a teenage girl rescued by police officers after she was trapped under a car during rioting in north Belfast have lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman.

Phoebe Clawson (16) suffered a broken collarbone, broken pelvis and broken ankle when she was knocked down and trapped under a car outside Ardoyne shops in an alleged murder bid by a member of the Orange Order last Monday night.

Officers lifted the vehicle off the girl and gave first aid while separating missile-throwing loyalists from republicans in the north of the city.

One officer who went to Phoebe's aid was hit in the face by a bottle and lost a tooth.

Trouble flared after a Loyal Order parade was blocked from marching up the contested north Belfast route.

The young girl was injured when 61-year-old Orangeman John Aughey allegedly drove into a group of people on the Crumlin Road. He has been charged with two counts of attempted murder.

Police officers lift a car off injured Phoebe Clawson after it crashed into a crowd of pedestrians in Ardoyne last Monday
Police officers lift a car off injured Phoebe Clawson after it crashed into a crowd of pedestrians in Ardoyne last Monday

The Clawson family have since complained to the Police Ombudsman about the policing operation in the area that evening.

It is understood the basis of their complaint was that the PSNI did not listen to calls from the republican group, Greater Ardoyne Residents' Collective (Garc), to close that part of the road off to traffic. Yesterday, the Clawson family released a statement through their solicitor, Michael Brentnall of Robert Murtagh & Co Solicitors, to "express their gratitude for the support that they have received since the attack on Phoebe".

The statement added that the family would "especially like to thank all those persons who assisted Phoebe in the immediate aftermath of the attack, including local residents and members of the emergency services."

The statement did not specifically mention the PSNI officers who rescued the young girl from under the car.

"We recognise that were it not for the swift actions of these persons we could be facing a far more tragic outcome," the statement continued.

"The family are aware of, and have noted the proceedings of the court, and welcome the fact that this incident has now been recognised as an attack on Phoebe and the community.

"The Police Ombudsman is currently investigating the circumstances of this incident and our office has been in contact with them on behalf of the family, in relation to the circumstances of the attack on Phoebe," the statement added.

The teenager has been recovering in hospital since the attack. Her family are hopeful she will be released within the next few days.

Twenty officers were hurt during trouble in the Ardoyne area that evening. One inspector sustained a severed ear and another officer's finger was almost bitten off during sectarian disorder which prompted police to use water cannon and fire baton rounds, striking four people.

Belfast Telegraph

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