Northern Ireland

Natasha Carruthers: Accused in 'dangerous driving incident after crash'

Natasha Carruthers Image copyright Family
Image caption Natasha Carruthers, 23, was a mother of one from Letterbreen in County Fermanagh

A man accused of causing the death of a woman in a crash was involved in a dangerous-driving incident seven weeks later, a court has heard.

Nathan Phair, 23, denies causing Natasha Carruthers' death. She was a passenger in a car he was driving, which hit a tree on 7 October 2017.

The court heard Mr Phair pleaded guilty to various offences relating to a separate incident on 23 November 2017.

These included driving while unfit, dangerous driving and vehicle theft.

Dungannon Crown Court heard a blood sample taken at the time of the second incident in County Fermanagh showed various levels of illegal substances including MDMA (ecstasy), Tramadol (painkiller), Temazepam (sleeping pill).

Full extent

The court heard that in relation to the fatal crash, Mr Phair had drug levels in his bloodstream "well above therapeutic range".

Analysis revealed high quantities of Xanax, which is used to treat anxiety-related conditions and is not available from the NHS.

While this did not necessarily impact on Mr Phair's ability to drive as individual reactions vary, the jury heard the level of the drug could significantly impair driving performance.

Mr Phair has accepted having no licence or insurance but denies causing Ms Carruthers' death and grievous injury to a second passenger, following a high-speed chase allegedly after a failed drug deal.

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

Mr Phair, from Castlebalfour Park, Lisnaskea, was driving Ms Carruthers' Vauxhall Corsa which was being pursued by co-defendant Padraig Toher.

Toher, 28, of Bawnboy, County Cavan, has accepted a charge of manslaughter and is not on trial.

Although aware of Mr Toher's role, the jury heard the full extent of what he has accepted.

He admitted to using his car as a weapon against the Corsa resulting in loss of control, killing mother-of-one Ms Carruthers, as well as causing grievous bodily harm to Phair and the rear-seat passenger.

He also admits perverting the course of justice by arranging to have his own car repaired, as well as conspiracy to possess cocaine.

The trial resumes on Monday.