Northern Ireland news

Pair handed combined 23-year sentence over Natasha Carruthers' death

Natasha Carruthers died in October 2017

Two men who caused the death of a Co Fermanagh woman in a 2017 road crash have been jailed for a combined 11-and-a-half years.

Cavan man Padraig Toher, who admitted 23-year-old Natasha Carruthers' manslaughter, and her boyfriend, Nathan Charles Phair who was convicted of causing her death by dangerous driving, were told they will serve half of their sentences in prison.

Natasha, from Letterbreen, died instantly when thrown through the windscreen of her car, driven by Phair, after it struck a tree at over 60mph on the outskirts of the Fermanagh village of Derrylin on October 7, 2017.

The court heard how he had been trying to flee from a man he had double-crossed in a drug deal.

The crash followed a 12-mile car chase along country roads and through villages at speeds reaching up to 100mph.

Just a few weeks before the crash, Natasha had celebrated her daughter Lily Rose's first birthday.

Dungannon Crown Court judge Neil Rafferty QC, sitting in Belfast, told Phair, (23) from Castlebalfour Park in Lisnaskea and Toher (29) from Bawnboy, County Cavan that they had both "contributed to the untimely and tragic death of Natasha".

During his trial, Phair denied responsibility for Ms Carruthers' death.

He was found guilty in September of dangerous driving causing death, causing grievous bodily injury to a second passenger, driving while unfit and possessing and supplying cocaine.

Phair, nicknamed 'Panda', a self-confessed unlicenced and uninsured driver who has already lodged an appeal against his conviction, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison with a further five and a half on licence. He was banned from driving for 15 years.

Toher, who had admitted manslaughter, was sentenced to six years in prison with a firther six to be served on licence. He was banned from driving for 10 years.

In a statement released today, Natasha's family said: "There is not a day that goes by that we do not think of Natasha and our hearts break."

"Natasha died from horrific injuries resulting from the selfish actions of  Padraig Toher and Nathan Phair. Her death has impacted on our entire family.

"Natasha was a much-loved mother, daughter, sister, granddaughter and niece. Natasha was a fun-loving, caring person with a heart of gold.

"Natasha's daughter Lily-Rose had just turned one when her Mummy was killed. She will never know her mum. All she will have is photos from when she was a baby. We will never be able to replace the love of her mummy."

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