Thursday 5 December 2019

Photographer suffers horrific injuries after he was bottled in the face at opening night of music festival

A bloodied John Baucher after the attack
A bloodied John Baucher after the attack
Fans at Belsonic concert

Jonny Bell

A photographer was left fearing for his sight after he was bottled in the face on the opening night of the Belsonic festival.

John Baucher was making his way to his east Belfast home on Thursday after a night out with friends when he came across concert-goers making their way over the Lagan Footbridge.

Thinking it would make a good picture, Mr Baucher got his camera out, but the crowd took exception to his photography.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I thought there was a picture. It's what I do and have done for the past 20 years - record the present for the future.

"Someone didn't like it and started calling me a 'paedo'. I probably shouldn't have done, but I engaged with them and said, 'Who are you calling a paedo?'"

John then found himself surrounded by a group of angry youths, aged 16 or 17.

Fans at Belsonic concert
Fans at Belsonic concert

Soon, a tussle developed and Mr Baucher was head-butted, leaving him more surprised than hurt.

"Completely out of nowhere, from my blindside, came a bottle straight into my face," said the photographer.

Despite the heavy blow, John stayed on his feet and even managed to take a picture of his attacker, which he plans to hand over to the police.

The 51-year-old feared the worst.

The vision in my right eye was really blurred," he said. "I thought my eyelid was in pieces and I really, thought I'd lose my sight.

"It was a major worry, very frightening. I was just pleading for my sight to return and, fortunately, it did."

"The Lagan emergency response team were amazing - they really looked after me and were on the scene in seconds, as were the ambulance and police."

The vicious attack, which John said would stay with him for years, left him with slashes to his face, two deep gouges on his nose and another below his right eye. His injuries will likely cause significant scarring.

"I was in a public place taking pictures," Mr Baucher explained. "You couldn't avoid the kids - there was that many of them. One of the girls thought I'd taken her picture and was demanding I delete it, which is something the police can't even make you do without a court order."

"Never have I had a problem with taking a picture until Thursday. And if I got a decent picture out of the 25 I took, I'd be surprised - it was just a spur-of-the-moment thing.

"I was so angry as I'd had such a great night out. For it to end like that was just sickening."

John has won numerous awards for his work and held major exhibitions. He has worked with young offenders, paramilitaries and documented the rebuilding work after the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake.

No one has been arrested and police are appealing for information.

They said 10 arrests were made outside the concert at which some 13,000 attended. Those arrested were aged between 15 and 21.

Belfast Telegraph

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