A motorist who ploughed into a group of revellers and left a blind man brain damaged is facing a lengthy stretch in prison after being found guilty of four charges of attempted murder.
Aqab Hussain used his Vauxhall Corsa as a “lethal weapon” after his night out celebrating the Muslim festival of Eid took a violent turn.
CCTV captured the 21-year-old driving the wrong way down Princess Street in Manchester city centre before striking partially-sighted Michael Ward and two of his friends, Paul Hulme and Martin Harris, at the junction of John Dalton Street.
Mr Ward, then 28, from Bolton, was scooped up on the bonnet before being “deposited” at the side of the road by the veering car. He was injured so severely that he was in intensive care for twenty days and spent around four months in a high dependency unit.
Meanwhile, Mr Hulme suffered fractures to his right leg after being “flipped into the air,” while Mr Harris suffered only minor injuries. A fourth member of Mr Ward’s group, Thomas Mallanphy, narrowly escaped injury after stepping back from the road, Mr Hussain’s Manchester Crown Court trial heard.
Hussain, of Gateshead Close, Rusholme, denied four charges of attempted murder in the trial but was found guilty by a unanimous jury after three-and-a-half hours of deliberation.
The victims were targeted after being the “aggressors” in a brief street fight with Mr Hussain’s group in Albert Square in the early hours of August 21 last year.
Earlier that evening, both groups of men had been enjoying a night out at Silk’s Gentlemen’s Club at Lloyd Street. But after leaving the lapdancing venue, a member of Hussain’s group was punched in a scuffle with someone from Mr Ward’s group.
After the warning “just watch” – Hussain staged the hit and run, described as “despicable” by prosecutor Ian Metcalfe.
After sustaining multiple skull fractures, a blood clot and bruising on the brain, Mr Ward had to have a piece of his skull removed and lost the use of his right arm.
The defendant, who was linked to the incident by a trail of circumstantial evidence, quickly left the country for Pakistan but was arrested at Manchester Airport six weeks afterwards.
After being found guilty Hussain was remanded in custody by Judge Robert Atherton and is now expected to be sentenced on October 31.
The Crown Prosecution Service has welcomed the verdict. Rachael Pavion, District Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, said: “Aqab Hussain used his car as a weapon, he sought revenge by driving at speed deliberately at the four men with a clear intention to kill.
“After he struck his victims, he drove from the scene and showed complete disregard for the harm he had caused.
“Eye witnesses, together with CCTV and forensic evidence helped to prove that he was the driver of the vehicle that had collided with the victims. The CPS has worked closely alongside the police to piece all the evidence together and present a strong case to the jury, who have today accepted the prosecution case and delivered a guilty verdict. As a result, Aqab Hussain has been brought to justice and he must now take responsibility for his dangerous actions.”