Belfast Telegraph

Mechanic ‘shocked’ to learn he’d fixed car involved in fatal crash, court told

Fatal crash: Natasha Carruthers
Fatal crash: Natasha Carruthers

By Staff Reporter

A mechanic who repaired damage to a BMW which was in a fatal crash has said he "would have run a mile" had he known it was involved in the incident.

During evidence Paul Carroll, who operates a vehicle repair workshop in Co Cavan, confirmed being asked by a relative of the BMW owner to fix the damage but said he later became concerned and asked if "there was something he needed to know".

In other evidence, Dungannon Crown Court heard phones belonging to occupants of both cars in the high-speed chase were checked and none contained any calls to police.

Nathan Charles Phair (23) from Castlebalfour Park was driving Natasha Carruthers' Vauxhall Corsa in which she was the front passenger, the trial has heard. He is accused of causing her death by dangerous driving.

He denies this, 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, but admits having no licence or insurance. He also denies intending to supply cocaine. Padraig Toher (28) from Co Cavan admitted manslaughter as his BMW made "deliberate contact" causing death, and is not on trial.

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

As the trial entered its third week, Mr Carroll said a friend, Barry Caughey, who sometimes used his workshop, asked to have the BMW repaired.

He said Mr Caughey disclosed that the BMW belonged to his partner's brother - Toher - who was know to Mr Carroll only as someone who lived in the area.

On removing the bumper Mr Carroll found a tear to the front right fog light and a scuff mark. He carried out repairs on October 10, then resprayed the entire bumper the following day.

At some point Toher arrived at the garage, helped Mr Carroll lift the bumper to re-attach it, then left and was not seen again, the court heard.

The repair took around six hours and cost €250, which included a discount for Mr Caughey who collected the car and paid for repairs.

Later, having mulled over the damage, Mr Carroll said he became suspicious and contacted Mr Caughey, asking: "Is there anything I need to know about the BMW?" Police then rang and explained Toher's suspected involvement in the fatal Fermanagh collision several days earlier.

Mr Carroll confirmed he had heard of the crash, but understood it was a single vehicle incident.

"I did not know of the connection until after the repair. I was very shocked," he told the court.

He was asked by defence counsel: "If you had known would you have run a mile from the repair?"

"Definitely," replied Mr Carroll. "I would have gone to the Garda."

The trial continues.

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