Northern Ireland

Natasha Carruthers death: 'Failed drug deal behind car chase'

Natasha Carruthers Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Natasha Carruthers was a mother of one from Letterbreen, County Fermanagh

A woman was killed during a high-speed car chase in Fermanagh after the driver was allegedly involved in a failed drugs deal, a jury has heard.

Nathan Phair, 23, from Castlebalfour Park, Lisnaskea, denies six charges relating to the crash, including causing death by dangerous driving.

He is also accused of supplying cocaine.

Natasha Carruthers, 23, died when her car, driven by Mr Phair, hit a tree near Derrylin on 7 October 2017.

The accident happened on the Lisnaskea Road.

At a trial at Dungannon Crown Court on Wednesday, a jury was told another man, Padraig Toher, 28, from Bawnboy, County Cavan, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other charges.

Image caption The car crashed into a tree on the Lisnaskea Road, near Derrylin

A prosecution lawyer said the car chase began as a result of a failed drugs deal the previous night.

He claimed Mr Toher had previously bought small amounts of cocaine from Mr Phair, but had wanted more.

He said Mr Toher paid £440 (€500) for cocaine but the drugs were never supplied.

The lawyer said Mr Phair had "swindled Toher out of his money".

He said Mr Toher confronted Mr Phair in a car at Letterbreen, smashing the windscreen and driver's window with a metal bar before it drove off.

The jury was told it would hear evidence that both cars reached speeds of up to 100mph as they travelled towards Derrylin.

The lawyer said on several occasions during the 12-mile chase Mr Toher's BMW bumped and nudged the Corsa being driven by Mr Phair.

After driving through Derrylin, he said Mr Phair drove in the middle of the Lisnaskea Road to prevent Mr Toher from overtaking him.

Died at the scene

There was contact between the two vehicles, which caused the Corsa to hit a tree.

The court was told the front seat passenger, Natasha Carruthers, was not wearing a seatbelt.

She was thrown from the car and died at the scene.

Another passenger, Sarah Gault, and the defendant, Nathan Phair, sustained serious injuries.

The prosecution lawyer said Mr Phair later sent a text from his hospital bed.

It said: "The Rat and that Padraig boy rammed me because I stroked them €500".

As well as causing death by dangerous driving, Mr Phair is also charged with causing grievous bodily injury (GBI) by dangerous driving, two counts of causing death or GBI by driving while unlicensed, and two counts of causing death or GBI by driving while uninsured.

He also faces two counts of supplying the Class A drug, cocaine, and one count of offering to supply cocaine.

The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.

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