Belfast Telegraph

BMW passenger told 'not to say anything' about Natasha Carruthers death crash pursuit, court hears

Victim: Natasha Carruthers
Victim: Natasha Carruthers

By Staff Reporter

The rear passenger of the BMW which pursued the Corsa in which Natasha Carruthers was travelling before her death was warned not to discuss what occurred.

In evidence at Dungannon Crown Court, Brian McManus said he was shocked, scared and couldn't look at the carnage when the Corsa veered off the road.

Nathan Charles Phair (23) from Castlebalfour Park in Lisnaskea was driving Natasha's Vauxhall Corsa in which she was the front passenger and is on trial accused of causing her death by dangerous driving.

He denies the charge, as well as grievous injury to a second passenger on October 7 2017, following a high-speed chase, allegedly after a failed drug deal, but admits having no licence or insurance.

He also denies drugs charges.

Padraig Toher (28) from Co Cavan, admitted manslaughter as his BMW made "deliberate contact" causing death and is not on trial.

With him was Andrew Waters, who put Toher in touch with Phair to purchase drugs, in the front seat and Mr McManus in the rear.

The Corsa lost control, entered a clockwise rotation, struck a tree on the passenger side which flung Natasha onto the road. She died instantly from multiple injuries.

Mr McManus knew Waters and often went to his workshop to watch him fixing cars.

Although not present for the alleged failed drug deal, Mr McManus was with Waters the next morning.

"I knew there was something up. He wasn't angry but he wasn't happy. He talked on the phone a lot ... I overhead mention of money," he told the court.

Later Toher came to Water's home, while Mr McManus was there.

"They asked me to come for a spin to get diesel," he said.

During this Toher asked where Letterbreen was, Waters gave directions, and on the way, encountered the Corsa at a roadside.

Mr Manus said: "Toher pulled up and reached into the passenger footwell. He lifted a bar, got out and walked to the Corsa.

"He was getting angry, shouting. He swung the bar at the windscreen... Then he struck the driver side... He was angry - you could see it in his face. He was cursing."

During the ensuing pursuit, Mr McManus described Toher trying to overtake the Corsa, which pulled out to prevent this. "They made contact. Then he tried to undertake and made contact again."

However, he was unsure if contact caused the Corsa to veer off the road.

Under defence cross-examination, Mr McManus denied seeing the collision or hearing an explosion. He said: "I was frightened. I couldn't wait to get home. I didn't want to look."

The defence stated: "You knew a terrible accident had occurred... It's not every day you are in a car that is responsible for causing carnage... This was an awful experience. Could you have blocked it out?"

Mr McManus responded: "I was in shock, scared."

The defence asked if the BMW stopped "momentarily" after the collision, but on seeing the extent of the damage left.

Mr McManus replied: "I don't remember the car stopping."

The court heard that Toher later warned Mr McManus: "Don't be saying anything about what happened."

The defence suggested: "You found yourself involved in very dangerous, criminal activity. You were right in the middle of it. Toher and Waters wanted to distance themselves and to ensure that you were warned, 'Tell nobody'.

"In the days after the collision, you got unhappier, but people were telling you to keep your mouth shut... You were deeply disturbed and frightened."

Mr McManus agreed adding he "didn't want to leave the house" after hearing of the death.

He also accepted not only being afraid of Toher but also Waters, who could be "moody and bad-tempered".

They told McManus to stick to the story: "That I knew nothing about it."

Mr McManus confirmed to the court he was distressed on learning of the fatality and was fearful of doing anything which would bring trouble to his door.

The trial continues.

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