The 23-year-old self-confessed unlicensed and uninsured driver accused of causing the death of a young mum, Natasha Carruthers by dangerous driving, was allegedly in a relationship with her, his trial heard.

Nathan Charles Phair allegedly made the admission during police interviews whilst he was recovering in hospital following the horror smash on the outskirts of Derrylin in the early hours of October 7, 2017.

Phair, from Castlebalfour Park in Lisnaskea, in addition to being accused of causing Natasha's death, also denies causing grievous bodily injury to a second girl travelling in Natasha's blue Vauxhall Corsa car driven by him.

His Dungannon Crown Court trial heard this week that whilst he was reasonable and forthcoming during his initial interviews in hospital, this changed under legal advice, and the following second and third interviews recorded largely “no comment” responses, even when officers pointed out they were trying to establish how Ms Carruthers died.

Ms Carruthers died following a crash where she was a front seat passenger of a Corsa car being driven by Phair at which was involved in 12 mile chase. The chase reached speeds of up to 100mph along the deserted country roads of Fermanagh between Letterbreen and Derrylin.

At the time they were being chased by the black BMW of 28-year-old Cavan man Paidraig Toher, who is awaiting sentence having admitted Natasha's manslaughter.

This week a transcript of Phair's police interviews was read into the record of his trial, now in its third week. In them 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 who was badly injured in the collision.

While he said he recalled Toher's BMW approach them in a layby as they 'made a fag' and Toher approaching them holding an iron bar, he 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 who “bumped me the whole way to Derrylin”getting ahead of him.

Phair also claimed: “He (Toher) touched my car. 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.”

After smashing into the tree Phair claimed he heard the BMW do a "U-turn and drive off. I heard his car.”

However, the court heard that when police began to question Phair about the days in the run-up to the accident, he answered: “No comment.”

He repeated the reply when told by a detective: “Do you understand, we are trying to find out why Natasha’s died?”

And when officers directly asked him if at the time of the collision, had he taken alcohol, prescription medication or narcotics, to which he replied “no” to all.

However, 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", but Phair later refused to answer questions on the subject, and thereafter, the majority of his answers were: “No comment”.

The court also heard while his previous responses from the first interview were read to him, Phair maintained his legal position. And when asked if he used the Corsa to prevent Toher overtaking him, repeated: “No comment.”