DETECTIVES from the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team have welcomed the conviction of 23 year old Nathan Phair from Co Fermanagh and 29 year old Padraig Toher from Co Cavan for causing the death of 23 year old Natasha Carruthers in a high speed car chase in Derrylin on Saturday 7 October 2017.
Nathan Phair was found guilty by a Jury of causing death by dangerous driving, driving unlicensed and uninsured as well as causing grievously bodily harm by dangerous driving, driving unlicensed and uninsured in respect of the other passenger in his car.
He was also found guilty of three counts in relation to the supply of Class A drugs.
Today, Friday 22 November, he was sentenced to 11 years at Dungannon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast.
Padraig Toher pleaded guilty to manslaughter, two counts of grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving, perverting the course of justice and conspiring to possess controlled drugs.
He was sentenced to 12 years.
Both men will serve half their sentences in jail and remainder on supervised licence after they are released from prison.
Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan said outside court: “On that fateful night in October 2017, Padraig Toher and Nathan Phair made a deliberate and conscious decision to drive two cars along public roads in a completely reckless manner.
“During the twelve mile, high-speed pursuit, Padraig was chasing after Nathan following a failed drug deal the night before, during which Nathan took money from Padraig for cocaine but did not supply the drugs.
“Speeds of 100 miles per hour were reached during the chase as Nathan, who was under the influence of drugs whilst driving, gave no thought for the safety of his passengers including Natasha.
“His only motive was to escape the consequences of his actions the night before, regardless of how dangerously he was driving.
“The actions of these two men put the lives of their passengers at risk, as well as the lives of other road users who were in the vicinity of the pursuit at the relevant time.
“The recklessness of their actions tragically resulted in a collision which claimed the life of young Natasha, who was a passenger in Nathan’s car and suffered horrific injuries following the collision.
“Natasha was a Mother to her one year old daughter at the time of her death.
“She was also a much loved daughter, sister, grand daughter and niece. Her family’s lives have been ruined by the actions of Nathan and Padraig.
“Since the incident, Padraig Toher has shown remorse for his actions but Nathan has continually refused to accept any responsibility for Natasha’s death, claiming that he had no option but to speed in order to get away from Toher.
“Throughout the investigation it was clear that Phair felt no remorse for the fact that his actions killed a young mother.
“Shortly after the crash he even boasted in social media messages that he would be likely to get a claim out of his injuries and Disability Living Allowance ‘DLA’.
“Whilst these men have now been jailed for their role in Natasha’s death, her family have to live with their loss forever.
“These two men have caused immeasurable damage and Natasha’s little girl will have to grow up without her Mother.
“I hope that this truly tragic case provides a clear message to those who drive dangerously on the roads – the consequences can be beyond comprehension.
“Do you want to be responsible for taking someone’s life and ruining the lives of their family in the process?
“Do you want to be behind bars?”
Statement released on behalf of Natasha’s family
“We welcome the sentences given to Padraig Toher and Nathan Phair today.
“No sentence will change the fact that Tasha is dead and we as a family have to live with the life sentence inflicted on us.
“There is not a day goes by that we do not think of Tasha and our heart breaks.
“Tasha died from horrific injuries resulting from the selfish actions of Padraig Toher and Nathan Phair. Her death has impacted on our entire family.
“Tasha was a much loved mother, daughter, sister, grand daughter and niece. Tasha was a fun loving, caring person with a heart of gold. Tasha’s daughter Lily Rose, had just turned one when her Mummy was killed.
“She will never know her Mum, all she will have is the photos from when she was a baby. We will never be able to replace the love of her Mummy.
“We would like to recognise and thank the numerous people who have helped in the quest for Justice for Tasha.
“The neighbours who heard the crash and came to help.
“The police, ambulance and fire service who attended and tried to help Tasha.
“All those who assisted police in the Investigation and also our thanks to all the witnesses who attended Court. ”