Belfast Telegraph

Drugged-up 'cowards' jailed over 80mph crash that killed Constable Philippa Reynolds

BY DONNA DEENEY

Two men who crashed a stolen jeep at 80mph into a police car killing Constable Philippa Reynolds in Londonderry have been called "cowards" by the judge who sentenced them to prison.

Shane Frane (26) and his accomplice, Conor Clarence (24) spent February 8, 2013 on a binge of drink and drugs before stealing a Toyota Landcruiser which they later drove through two red lights and smashed into the police car killing Constable Reynolds (27) almost exactly one year ago.

Judge Philip Babington jailed Frane, who was behind the wheel, for an indeterminate term of a least six years, which means he can only be released from prison if the Parole Commissioner of Northern Ireland believes he is no longer a danger to the public.

Among the total of 10 charges Frane pleaded guilty to was the manslaughter of Constable Reynolds, causing death by grievous bodily injury by driving, failing to remain at the scene of an accident and failing to report an accident and driving a stolen vehicle while unfit through drink and drugs.

Clarence will spend the next 21 months behind bars and an additional 21 months on licence for his role in the death of Constable Reynolds, the injuries inflicted on her two colleagues who were in the car with her and for the theft of the Landcruiser as well as a number of other charges.

Frane and Clarence, whose addresses were given as the Simon Community Hostel in Bond Street showed signs of nervousness as they listened to the judge's comments.

Constable Reynolds' parents, Meryvn and Dorothy along with her two sisters, Nicola and Debra, accompanied by senior PSNI officers, listened to the judge.

Judge Babington said: "These offences represent very grave offending by the defendants who at the time cared not a jot for any other member of the community.

"It is quite clear that they went on a day-long binge of drink, fuelled by the consumption of large quantities of illegal drugs and then deliberately stole a car so as to go to some event in Limavady.

"To drive a vehicle at speeds of up to 80mph in a built-up area, albeit at 3am, is an act of the most serious recklessness. You acted like the cowards you were and made yourselves scarce in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

"You could have killed or injured anyone or any number of people and it was Philippa Reynolds' misfortune and that of her family that she was fatally injured in the ensuing impact.

"Her death is particularly sad because it is said she was doing a job that she loved and was serving the community at the time that she was so tragically killed."

Judge Babington described how the pair had consumed large quantities of drink and illegal drugs on the February 8 and in the early hours of Saturday, February 9 had stolen the Landcruiser from Fountain Hill before driving off at speeds of up to 80mph.

They drove through two red lights, including one at the junction commonly known as Dales Corner where they smashed into the police patrol car which was crossing the junction from King Street onto the Glendermott Road.

The judge described the cowardly actions of Frane and Clarence and added: "It appears that they changed their clothing in an attempt to disguise themselves and then walked back past the scene of the incident."

The pair were then led away in handcuffs to begin their respective prison sentences.

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