Belfast Telegraph

Stolen car duo guilty over police officer's death

By CHRIS KILPATRICK

Two men have pleaded guilty to charges relating to the death of a young female police officer.

Constable Philippa Reynolds (27) died on duty after a stolen vehicle ploughed into the police car she was travelling in at Dales Corner in the Waterside area of Londonderry in February.

Stephen Christopher Frane (26) yesterday pleaded guilty to manslaughter, guilty to causing death while driving without insurance or a licence, and driving while unfit due to drink or drugs.

Conor Clarence (24) pleaded guilty to four charges connected to the incident.

Frane, who is originally from Limerick and whose address was given as c/o Maghaberry Prison, further pleaded guilty to failing to report the crash and failing to remain at the scene.

He pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated vehicle taking, causing the death of Constable Reynolds.

Clarence, from the Simon Community at Bonds Hill, pleaded guilty to stealing a Toyota Land Cruiser, entering as a trespasser a house on Fountain Hill and stealing car keys, causing criminal damage to a Citroen Saxo car and allowing himself to be driven in the stolen Toyota that was involved in the fatal crash.

Members of Constable Reynolds' family, including her parents Mervyn and Dorothy and sisters Nicola and Debra, were at the court, with relatives and friends.

Prosecution barrister Terence Mooney QC told Judge Philip Babington he did "not anticipate a trial in relation to Frane's not guilty plea".

The case was adjourned until January to allow for the preparation of pre-sentence and psychiatric reports.

Both defendants were remanded in continuing custody.

Remembering her daughter, Mrs Reynolds previously said Philippa was "very loving, always having fun".

"She was always the baby, she enjoyed life," she said.

"We've had to adjust, obviously, and some days are easier than others. There are hard days when you don't want to get out of bed, you don't want to be here. But you have to go on for the rest of your family. It is hard, anyone who has lost a child will understand."

Mr Reynolds previously said: "You have your wee tear, something you see, something you hear, or is a reminder – your emotions just well up inside you."

BACKGROUND

Philippa Reynolds died early on February 9, 2013. She was on routine patrol with her colleagues passing through Dales Corner road junction in the Waterside area of Derry. A stolen Land Cruiser 4x4 vehicle ran a red light at the junction and crashed into the police vehicle in which Philippa was a back seat passenger. She died instantly.

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