Belfast Telegraph

Crash death accused Phair in relationship with Natasha Carruthers, trial told

Killed: Natasha Carruthers
Killed: Natasha Carruthers

By Staff Reporter

The trial of a 23-year-old man accused of causing the death of Natasha Carruthers by dangerous driving has heard the content of his police interviews, one of which states he was in a relationship with her.

Dungannon Crown Court heard Nathan Charles Phair's first interview took place in hospital and he was reasonably forthcoming, but this was to change.

Under legal advice Phair largely gave "no comment" responses in his second and third interviews.

Phair, from Castlebalfour Park, Lisnaskea, was driving Ms Carruther's Vauxhall Corsa in which she was the front passenger, which was being pursued by co-defendant Padraig Toher in a BMW. While Phair has accepted having no licence or insurance, he denies causing Natasha's death and grievous injury to a second passenger on October 7, 2017, following a high-speed chase, allegedly after a failed drug deal.

He also denies drugs charges.

After a 12-mile chase, during which speeds at times reached 100mph, the Corsa lost control, spun clockwise and struck a tree on the passenger side.

Ms Carruthers was flung onto the road, sustaining a multiplicity of severe injuries which rapidly caused her death.

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

Now in its third week, the trial was read the transcripts of statements given to police by Phair, the first of which was taken while he was still in hospital recovering from serious injuries sustained in the collision.

Phair described the car chase and crash, but refused to provide any detail on what had gone on during events beforehand or how he knew Toher.

He disclosed being in a relationship with Ms Carruthers but claimed not to know her friend Sarah Gault, who was travelling in the rear of the Corsa.

Phair confirmed on the night in question the trio were in the car, stopped in a layby "making a fag".

He recalled the BMW approach, from which Toher emerged holding an iron bar, using this to strike the Corsa windscreen and driver-side window.

Phair accepted speeding off, telling officers: "I wasn't going to sit there when he came at me."

He did not know the speed he drove and accepted driving over both lanes to prevent Toher getting ahead of him.

Phair recalled: "He (Toher) touched my car. He got the back right and he put me off the road. He was trying to get me swung round to get me stopped. It just happened so quick."

Toher, he told police, "did a U-turn and drove off. I heard his car".

Ms Gault in the rear was screaming, but Phair could not see her or Ms Carruthers as he was trapped.

But when police shifted to questions around the day beforehand, Phair answered: "No comment."

However, he did confirm immediately prior to the incident he was at Ms Carruthers' home and left in her car.

Officers directly asked Phair if at the time of the collision, he had taken alcohol, prescription medication or narcotics, to which he replied "no" to all.

Forensic tests would later show he had a quantity of Xanax (also known as Alprazolam and a prescription-only drug) in his system, "above the therapeutic range".

The trial continues.

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