Belfast Telegraph

Fatal crash scene horrific, witnesses tell trial

Crash victim Natasha Carruthers
Crash victim Natasha Carruthers
Defendant Nathan Phair

By Staff Reporter

The first person on the scene of a horror crash in which a young woman died saw the victim lying "like a rag doll" under a car, a court has heard.

The recording of their 999 call was played during the trial of Lisnaskea man Nathan Charles Phair, who is accused of causing the death of Natasha Carruthers by dangerous driving on October 7, 2017.

Phair (23), from Castlebalfour Park, is also charged with causing grievous bodily injury to a second female passenger in the horror smash, which came about following a high-speed car chase, allegedly on the back of a failed drug deal. These matters, as well as alleged possession of cocaine with intent to supply, are denied, although Phair has accepted driving without a licence or insurance.

Co-defendant Padraig Toher (28), of Bawnboy, Co Cavan, has accepted his car made "deliberate contact" and is not on trial, having admitted manslaughter as Natasha died as a result.

Aged 23 and from Letterbreen, Natasha died after being flung from the passenger seat of her own car, driven by Phair at Newbridge Road near Derrylin.

The collision was initially treated as a tragic accident, but after forensic examination police upgraded the investigation.

Dungannon Crown Court heard that the caller, who lives close by, told the emergency operator: "It looks very bad."

In oral evidence, the witness explained that he was in his home and heard the loud bang as the car impacted with a tree.

He and his wife took a torch and set off to see if they could assist.

The male went on ahead and was met by the horror sight of the crashed car on top of Natasha, with Phair in the driver seat and the very distressed female victim in the back.

"I saw a young girl lying under where the engine should have been," he said.

"The engine itself was down the field. There was no sign of life.

"She lay like a rag doll… I saw (the extent of the leg injuries).

"I was trying to keep the road safe while waiting for the ambulance.

"I chatted to the girl in the back. She wanted out but her foot was trapped.

"She was crying, upset. I kept talking to her and said help was coming… the man in front (Phair) was moving, he was alive."

The witness continued: "I looked around the field to see if there was anyone else about but there wasn't. Another man arrived on the scene minutes after me.

"He said he met a car further down the road with the number plate hanging off."

His wife, the second witness on the scene, had gone back to the house to get fluorescent jackets because she was concerned about further danger on the road in the dark.

She said: "I came across the blue car.

"My husband was ringing emergency services.

"I could hear the girl screaming in the back.

"I saw the driver. He was breathing; he was unconscious.

"Then I saw the girl underneath.

"I saw her blonde hair and I became very distressed.

"My emotions got the better of me. I was really upset by it all."

Asked by defence counsel: "Was it clear to you this was a bad smash?"

She replied: "Yes, very bad."

In relation to Phair's condition, she agreed he looked seriously injured and unconscious, or slipping in and out of consciousness.

The witness confirmed Phair did not speak and the defence asked: "Are you clear that was through unconsciousness and not because he was ignoring you?"

"I have no medical training," she replied.

"But he looked bad. Unconscious, yes."

The trial continues.

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