Pair in court over officer's death

News Shopper: Forensic police officers at the scene of a car crash in which a policewoman was killed on the Limavady Road, Londonderry Forensic police officers at the scene of a car crash in which a policewoman was killed on the Limavady Road, Londonderry

Two homeless men have been charged with causing the death of a young police officer whose patrol car was hit by a stolen 4x4 in Londonderry.

Derry Magistrates' Court heard how both men fled the scene immediately after the crash and the passenger later tried to conceal his identity by changing his clothing.

District Judge Barney McElhom described the death of 27-year-old Philippa Reynolds as senseless. The judge said: "The court would like to take this opportunity to express condolences to Constable Reynolds' family, friends and colleagues at this senseless and needless loss of life."

Shane Frane, 25, and Conor Clarence, 23, whose addresses were given as the Simon Community hostel at Bonds Hill in Londonderry, face a string of charges connected to the police officer's death.

Frane, who was the driver of the stolen car, was charged with 10 offences including aggravated vehicle taking causing grievous bodily harm or death, driving whilst unfit through drink or drugs and failing to stop at the scene of an accident. He was also charged with burglary.

The court heard how keys for the Land Cruiser were stolen from a house in the Fountain Hill area of Derry. Clarence was charged with four counts including aggravated vehicle taking causing death or injury, burglary, criminal damage and assisting an offender.

Both men spoke to confirm their name, age, address and that they understood the charges against them. They appeared in the dock separated by three prison officers. Frane, who had cropped dirty blond curly hair, was dressed in a dark blue round neck jumper. Clarence was wearing a blue striped shirt and had a tattoo on his neck.

As the charges were being read out they were warned to keep quiet. Judge McElhone said: "I do not want to hear another word out of either of you. Stand there silently."

Clarence's defence solicitor David Brewster said his client was sorry. Mr Brewster told the court: "He wants to publicly express his apology and regret for the role he had in this tragic incident." Mr Brewster also said his client had given police a full account and expressed remorse.

There were no applications for bail and both defendants were remanded in custody to appear again on March 7.

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