Belfast Telegraph

CCTV of car chase that led to death of young mum Natasha Carruthers shown in court

Nathan Phair is accused of causing the death of Natasha Carruthers (top) in a crash in Co Fermanagh
Nathan Phair is accused of causing the death of Natasha Carruthers (top) in a crash in Co Fermanagh
Nathan Phair
Natasha Carruthers

By Michael Donnelly

Jurors in the trial of a man accused of causing the death of a mother-of-one were shown CCTV footage yesterday of a high-speed car chase that happened before the crash in which she died.

Those in the car chasing the man accused of causing the death of Natasha Carruthers by dangerous driving went looking him after they "fuelled up" their car and "tooled up with an iron bar", a trial in Dungannon was told yesterday.

The claim was made by Brian Macartney QC, barrister for Nathan Phair (23), who was driving Ms Carruthers' blue Vauxhall Corsa on the night of the crash on October 7, 2017, as it was being chased along the rural B roads of Fermanagh by Padraig Toher in his black BMW.

The prosecution previously said the apparent motivation for the 12-mile high-speed chase between Letterbreen and Derrylin was a failed drug-deal between Toher and Phair, from Castlebalfour Park, Lisnaskea, and a third man who "arranged for the two of them to do business".

Footage captured by CCTV along the route taken by the cars was shown to the jury of 10 men and two women.

In one clip, taken from Lisnaskea police station, the BMW of Toher, who has already admitted the manslaughter of Ms Carruthers (23), was seen driving towards Newtownbutler and then back again.

Another clip showed Toher, from Ballyconnell in Co Cavan, stopping at an Enniskillen service station to buy fuel.

The sergeant who compiled the CCTV clips was asked by Mr Macartney why Toher was "driving around and getting fuelled up".

The officer replied that he did not know, before adding: "(The)only reason I know is that they were looking for Nathan Phair".

When asked by Mr Macartney if he knew "they were tooled up with an iron bar", the sergeant said he was not aware of it as his part of the investigation was seeking CCTV in relation to the fatal crash.

The court has already heard that, prior to the chase, Toher had hit the windscreen of the Corsa with an iron bar and smashed the driver's window after coming across Phair, Ms Carruthers and another girl in the car in the village of Letterbreen.

CCTV clips played in court showed the cars, their lights on full beam, racing along, one chasing the other, at speeds from 67 to 87mph, before the Corsa was clocked at an estimated 100mph in the village of Derrylin just prior to the crash.

The court also heard from a motorist who said he had to "brake hard" to avoid the two cars as they drove towards Derrylin.

The motorist told the court that it appeared one car was trying to overtake the other, before pulling onto its proper side of the road, and that in order to avoid a possible collision, he had to "slow down very quickly ... I nearly came to a standstill".

Phair, who was seriously injured in the crash, denies nine charges, including causing Nathasha's death by dangerous driving and causing grievous bodily injury to another girl - a back seat passenger - as well as driving without insurance and a licence.

The trial continues.

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