Belfast Telegraph

I knew chase would result in bad crash, witness tells court

Killed: Natasha Carruthers
Killed: Natasha Carruthers

By Staff Reporter

A front seat passenger in a Co Fermanagh car chase in which a 23-year-old woman died has told a court he put his head on his knees during the pursuit but did not see the fatal collision.

Andrew Waters, known as 'Rat', was originally arrested on suspicion of Natasha Carruthers' murder.

Nathan Charles Phair (23), from Castlebalfour Park, Lisnaskea, was driving Ms Carruthers' Vauxhall Corsa, in which she was the front seat passenger.

Phair admits having no licence or insurance, but denies causing Natasha's death, as well as grievous injury to a second passenger, Sarah Gault, on October 7, 2017, following a high-speed chase, allegedly after a failed drug deal.

Phair also denies intending to supply cocaine.

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

The Corsa went out of control, spun and struck a tree on the passenger side before coming to rest in a hedge. Natasha was flung onto the road and died instantly.

Waters previously said Phair "stroked" Toher of £500 paid in advance for a quantity of cocaine. But it is alleged Phair did not deliver, and the night after the failed deal Toher set out with Waters to seek him out to get the money back.

They spotted Ms Carruthers' Corsa parked up, with Phair behind the wheel and Ms Gault in the back. Toher attacked the Corsa windows with an iron bar while demanding his money.

Asked why he didn't intervene to stop this, Waters replied: "I was afraid Toher would turn on me. He was mad."

Phair drove off at speed with Toher in pursuit.

The high-speed chase went on for 12 miles, at times reaching 100mph, during which Toher screamed: "I'll spin that car and get my money off him."

Waters told Dungannon Crown Court: "He looked like a lunatic. He is a lunatic.

"I was roaring at him to stop."

Waters accepted he "could not stop Toher on his mission".

"I knew what was going to happen," he said.

"It was only going to end one way."

He continued: "I put my head down on my knees, I couldn't watch the way Nathan was driving, left to right on the road.

"I knew he was going to lose the car."

The defence asked: "You realised that because of the nudge (from Toher's car)?"

Waters replied: "That's 100%. I'm not going to lie.

"You knew the efforts to stop it would end in a spin?" asked the defence.

Waters said: "I didn't see it go into the spin. But I knew what was coming."

The defence continued: "And a moment later, there was an explosion.

"You knew the hell you had foreseen had actually occurred.

"You gave another interview with greater clarity with a declaration of what was going on all the way through that journey."

Waters confirmed this and that he referred to the young people in the Corsa as "only kids". Having originally claimed the BMW nudged the Corsa once or twice, he later said it was 10-20 times from start to finish.

Under prosecution re-examination Waters was asked if he was clarifying Toher "spun" the Corsa.

Waters said there wasn't a nudge at the actual point the Corsa lost control.

The trial, which is expected to last at least another week, resumes today.

In the meantime, arrest warrants have been issued for a number of witnesses who failed to attend to give evidence.

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