Northern Ireland news

Car chasing man accused of causing Natasha Carruthers's death by dangerous driving 'fuelled up' before pursuit

Mother-of-one Natasha Carruthers was killed in the crash

THE car chasing a man accused of causing the death of mother-of-one Natasha Carruthers by dangerous driving had been “fuelled up” with its occupants “tooled up with an iron bar”, the trial heard
on Thursday.

The claim was made by defence QC Brian Macartney for 23-year-old Nathan Phair who was driving her blue Vauxhall Corsa on the night of the crash as it was chased by a black BMW driven by Padraig Toher along the rural roads of Co Fermanagh.

Phair (23), of Castlebalfour Park, Lisnaskea, denies six charges relating to the crash including causing death by dangerous driving on October 7 2017. He is also accused of supplying cocaine.

Dungannon Crown Court has already heard that at the time of the crash, when Phair hit a tree near Derrylin, he was trying to evade two men he had “swindled” in a failed drug deal the previous evening.

CCTV footage captured before and then along the route of the racing cars was shown to the jury.

In the first clip, taken from Lisnaskea Police Station, the car driven by Toher, who has already admitted the manslaughter of Ms Carruthers (23), was seen driving towards Newtownbutler and back again. Another clip shows Toher, of Ballyconnell in Co Cavan, later stopping off at an Enniskillen service station to buy fuel.

The sergeant who compiled the clips was questioned by Mr Macartney as to why Toher was “driving around and getting fuelled up”. The officer said the “only reason I know is that they were looking for Nathan Phair”.

However, when asked by Mr Macartney if he knew “they were tooled up with an iron bar”, the sergeant said he was “not aware of it” as his part of the investigation “was seeking CCTV” in relation to the fatal crash.

The court has already heard that prior to the chase Toher had hit the windscreen of the Corsa car with an iron bar and smashed the driver’s window after coming across Phair, Ms Carruthers and another girl in their car in the village of Letterbreen.

The clips played to the court showed the two cars, their lights blazing on full beam, racing along, one chasing the other, at speeds ranging from 67mph to 87mph before the Corsa was clocked doing an estimated100mph as it drove through Derrylin just before the crash.

The court also heard from a motorist returning to his Enniskillen home with his partner, who described how he had to “break hard” to avoid the two cars as they drove towards Derrylin.

The man told the court that it appeared one car was trying to overtake the other, before pulling onto its proper side of the road, but that to avoid a possible collision he had to “slow down very quickly”.

“I nearly came to a standstill,” the witness said.

The trial continues.

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