Belfast Telegraph

Nathan Phair: Home invasions and attacks on elderly - previous convictions of drug dealer who wouldn’t admit guilt over car chase death

Nathan Phair
Nathan Phair
The scene of the crash

By Staff Reporter

The full extent of Nathan Phair's criminality emerged after his conviction yesterday, following a trial that revealed shocking details of the crash and its aftermath.

The jury had not been told of Phair's previous convictions for home invasions involving attacks on elderly, vulnerable victims.

But the judge did allow jurors to hear of the dangerous driving and car theft matters, which occurred within weeks of his discharge from hospital, committed while "off his head on pills".

Multiple drugs including MDMA (ecstasy) and Carboxy-THC (cannabis) as well as the medications Tramadol, Oxazepam, Temazepam, Diazepam - none of which had been prescribed - were found in his bloodstream on arrest.

In that matter Phair stole a Jeep from a driveway and made off at speed.

The owner spotted this and gave chase in another vehicle, contacting police and staying on the phone providing updates on the direction of travel. Over 10 miles the Jeep sped from where it was stolen in Boa Island, through Kesh, then Ederney and into the countryside.

On attempting to U-turn, it collided with another vehicle. Phair exited and told the owner: "Leave me alone. I'm off my head on pills."

The owner described his Jeep being driven "dangerously, on the wrong side of the road and swerving all over ... it went completely over to the other lanes".

Natasha (23), a mother-of-one from Letterbreen, died on October 7, 2017, when the car Phair was driving hit a tree.

The trial heard details of how the collision followed a high-speed pursuit after Phair "performed a cheat or swindle" over a failed drug deal.

Natasha, jurors heard, suffered multiple horrific injuries in the collision, rapidly causing her death.

The first person on the scene recalled seeing Phair slumped over the steering wheel, the rear passenger screaming in pain, and Natasha lying "like a rag-doll".

The first police officer to arrive recalled seeing a name tattooed on Natasha's shoulder, which it later emerged was of her baby daughter, who celebrated her first birthday a fortnight beforehand.

Throughout the trial, the defence contended Phair was a victim, not only of drug abuse at epidemic proportions among today's youth, but also of unscrupulous individuals who wove "a tapestry of lies" in the case against him.

They argued speeding over 12 miles of dangerous driving was to save himself and Natasha from possible death at the hands of an irate man, robbed of cash from a drug swindle in which Phair failed to deliver cocaine. But the jury found Phair's driving did cause Natasha's death and he is a drug dealer, something which he equivocated on in the witness box. "I didn't exactly supply it. I got it from someone else and then gave it to him," he claimed.

Tears in the witness box, leading the court to be suspended, were for Natasha, Phair said, maintaining he got depressed "now and then".

But he felt no responsibility at all for her death and denied the vast amount of Xanax found in his bloodstream - 19 times the upper therapeutic range - impaired his driving skills.

He accepted thinking about Natasha while recovering from his injuries.

The Facebook messages sent by Phair from his hospital bed, in response to a friend who appeared to mock him, gloated of getting "a serious claim out of this".

Giving evidence Phair was swift to point out he didn't know Natasha was dead when he posted the message: "I'll be out in four weeks and be on DLA."

He claimed to care about Natasha but said: "I was sedated. I was on morphine and stuff."

The jury found Phair's actions caused Natasha's death, in conjunction with co-defendant, Padraig Toher, who had admitted manslaughter.

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