Belfast Telegraph

Cars in fatal high-speed Fermanagh chase were doing 85mph, court told

Nathan Phair, who denies causing the death of Natasha Carruthers
Nathan Phair, who denies causing the death of Natasha Carruthers
Natasha Carruthers

By Staff Reporter

Two cars involved in a high-speed chase in Co Fermanagh that ended in a crash in which a young woman was killed had been travelling at an estimated 85mph, a forensic engineer has told a court.

Natasha Carruthers died after she was flung from a car, which then trapped her when it rolled over her.

Nathan Charles Phair (23) from Castlebalfour Park, Lisnaskea admits having no licence or insurance, but denies causing Ms Carruthers' death, as well as grievous injury to a second passenger on October 7, 2017. He also denies intending to supply cocaine.

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

Natasha (23) was the front-seat passenger in her Vauxhall Corsa, driven by Phair at Newbridge Road, Derrylin. The collision was initially treated as a tragic accident, but police upgraded their investigation after forensic examination.

Yesterday, as the trial entered its second week at Dungannon Crown Court, a forensic engineer confirmed the BMW made contact with the Corsa, which lost control.

It spun, struck a tree on the passenger side and continued on before coming to rest on a hedge.

The engine was jettisoned into the field. Natasha was flung onto the road, but the car continued moving, ending up on top of her.

The engineer referred to CCTV of both cars during the 12-mile journey, with the last image captured 450 metres before the crash, when the Corsa was 0.2 seconds and eight metres ahead of the BMW - the closest noted distance during the pursuit.

Both were "fully over the central line", in the opposite lane and at speeds of around 85mph. The collision occurred 10 seconds later.

Examination of tyre marks and the Corsa indicated three - but possibly more - positions of contact by the BMW. No defects were found in the cars involved.

Under cross-examination the engineer confirmed the BMW was "heavier, more powerful" than the Corsa.

The defence said: "A pre-prepared statement of a witness travelling in the BMW - Andrew Waters, known as 'The Rat' … claims the driver (Toher) said, 'I'll f***ing spin this b*****d. I'll get him off the road and get my money back'."

Prosecution counsel objected as the engineer "cannot reasonably be expected to know this".

Asked if the engineer was aware Mr Waters was a professional stunt motorcycle rider who taught Toher similar techniques, he replied this was not relevant to his investigation.

He confirmed being told Phair had driven away from an altercation, in which what he understood to be a wheel brace was produced, but knew nothing of an alleged "attack with an iron bar", as that level of detail would not be given to him.

The engineer agreed there was a pursuit, as per the judge's definition of "vehicles in close proximity, traveling at significant speeds".

The trial continues.

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