Belfast Telegraph

Drug driver who killed policewoman Philippa Reynolds pens letter of apology

By Donna Deeney

The driver of the stolen jeep that ploughed into a police car fatally injuring Constable Philippa Reynolds has written a letter to her parents expressing sorrow for the death of their daughter, but it will only be sent to them if they express a wish to see it.

Constable Reynolds (27) died when a stolen 4x4 driven by Shane Frane (26), who was high on a cocktail of drink and drugs, ploughed into a police car in Londonderry last February.

A court was told that Frane drove the vehicle through two red lights at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour before he crashed into the patrol car.

Frane, whose address was given as c/o Maghaberry Prison, is now facing the possibility that he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

He sat stony-faced in the dock with his co-defendant Conor Clarence (24), whose address was given as c/o the Simon Community in Derry, while their two legal representatives made final sentencing submissions before Judge Philip Babington.

Also in court were Philippa's parents Mervyn and Dorothy, who sat alongside her two sisters Debra and Nicola and some friends, who all listened intently, at times with their eyes closed.

A number of high-ranking PSNI officers, including Philippa's commander, Superintendent Garry Eaton, were also in attendance.

Frane pleaded guilty to a number of charges including manslaughter, stealing a Toyota Land Cruiser, causing death while uninsured and unlicensed, driving while unfit, failing to remain at the scene and failing to report an accident, all on February 9, 2013.

Clarence admitted all the charges against him, which include stealing the Land Cruiser, criminal damage and allowing himself to be carried in a stolen vehicle.

A defence barrister for Frane told the court that her client had a "difficult start in life and was abandoned by his parents as a baby", was brought up by his grandmother in the Traveller community until he was left to "fend for himself" at age 13.

Frane, who developed a dependency on drugs and alcohol, has "an extensive record" including a conviction for grievous bodily harm for which he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment with two years on licence.

A pre-sentence report and psychological assessments carried out on Frane showed that he is "dangerous" and a "significant risk to the public".

On this basis his barrister told the court that Frane accepted that one option open to the judge was to impose an indeterminate sentence, which would mean he may never be released from prison. But she asked the judge to stop short of this when he handed down his sentence to Frane on February 4, 2014.

Frane's barrister added that despite failing two drug tests in prison, he had now been drug free for four months.

Separated from Frane by a court security guard, Conor Clarence showed no emotion as his barrister told the court how his client also had a "disturbed and difficult upbringing" which saw him go into "various homes and institutions".

Judge Babington adjourned the sitting until February 4, saying he will pass sentence on that day, mindful that it will be just five days before the anniversary of Constable Reynolds death.

Belfast Telegraph

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