Michael Porter tried to kill by driving into pub crowd

A man who drove a car into a crowd outside a pub has been found guilty of two counts of attempted murder.

Michael Porter, 34, Glen Court, Newtownards, County Down, attempted to murder Paul Thompson and Daniel Martin on 19 December, 2011.

He was also found guilty of causing Christopher McKay grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving.

Porter had denied being the driver of the car driven into the crowd outside the Great Eastern pub in east Belfast.

Unconscious

During a week-long trial at Belfast Crown Court, the jury was told Porter, his brother and a friend, Paul Thompson, had been drinking in a city centre bar before Porter drove them to the Great Eastern bar on Newtownards Road.

During their time in the pub, the three felt they were being stared at and, after words were exchanged, they left.

Mr Thompson was assaulted and knocked unconscious in the street and moments later the car driven to the area by Porter was seen driving into a crowd standing outside the pub.

One eyewitness told the court the car "knocked people over like skittles."

The car did a U-turn and drove at speed down the road, hitting the unconscious Mr Thompson as he lay on the road, and the prone body of Mr Martin who lay injured after being struck by the car.

Both men sustained serious injuries in the incident, including multiple fractures. Mr McKay also sustained injuries when the car drove into the crowd.

Porter denied he was the driver, saying that when he saw his friend being attacked outside the pub, he fled the scene and stayed at a friend's house.

Defence counsel asked that Porter be released on bail, but the judge rejected the request and remanded him in custody. Porter is due to be sentenced in January.

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