Northern Ireland

Natasha Carruthers: Court hears accused statements to police

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

The man accused of causing the death of mother-of-one Natasha Carruthers has said he was in a relationship with her.

The information emerged in the contents of a police interview with Nathan Charles Phair, 23, of Castlebalfour Park in Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh.

He denies charges linked to the crash in which Natasha Carruthers died.

She was killed when the car he was driving hit a tree on 7 October 2017. The trial started last month and is taking place at Dungannon Crown Court.

Mr Phair is accused of causing 23-year-old Ms Carruthers' death and causing grievous bodily injury to another woman who was in the car, both of which he denies.

He has also been charged with possessing cocaine with intent to supply, which he also denies.

A co-defendant, 28-year-old Padraig Toher, of Bawnboy in County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland, has accepted a charge of manslaughter and is not on trial.

Speeding

Now in its third week, the trial was read the transcripts of statements given to police by Mr Phair.

The first of these was taken while he was still in hospital recovering from serious injuries sustained in the collision.

With a defence solicitor in attendance, Mr Phair described the car chase and crash.

Image caption The car driven by Nathan Phair crashed into a tree on the Lisnaskea Road near Derrylin

He disclosed being in a relationship with Ms Carruther's, but claimed not to know her friend Sarah Gault, who was travelling in the rear of the Corsa and was badly injured in the collision.

Mr Phair confirmed on the night in question the trio were in the car and stopped in a layby.

He recalled a BMW approach from which Mr Toher emerged holding a bar which he used to strike the Corsa windscreen and driver-side window.

Mr Phair accepted speeding off, telling officers: "I wasn't going to sit there when he came at me."

He did not know the speed he drove as he was "watching the road" and accepted driving over both lanes to prevent Toher getting ahead of him.

"He [Toher] touched my car," Mr Phair said in his police statement.

"He got the back right and he put me off the road. He was trying to get me swung round to get me stopped... it just happened so quick."

Toher, he told police: "Did a U-turn and drove off. I heard his car."

Officers directly asked Phair if he had taken alcohol, prescription medication or narcotics at the time of the collision.

He replied "no" to all of these.

Forensic tests would later show he had quantity of Xanax (also known as Alprazolam and a prescription-only drug) in his system, "above the therapeutic range".

The trial continues.

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