Northern Ireland

Shane Frane: Police killer who went on the run loses legal battle over temporary jail release

 Shane Frane
Shane Frane

A prisoner who went on the run while serving a sentence for killing a police officer has lost a legal battle over being denied periods of temporary release.

Shane Frane, 36, challenged an alleged failure to provide him with previous opportunities to demonstrate he could be freed safely.

But judges at the Court of Appeal dismissed his case on Tuesday after citing the two-week period earlier this year when he was unlawfully at large.

Lord Justice McCloskey ruled: “It has been rendered academic by supervening events.”

Frane, originally from Limerick, is serving an indeterminate sentence for the manslaughter of PSNI Constable Philippa Reynolds in a road crash.

The 27-year-old female officer died after a stolen vehicle driven by Frane struck her police car in the Waterside area of Derry on February 9, 2013.

Constable Philippa Reynolds, who was killed in 2013 when car driven by Shane Frane smashed into her unmarked police vehicle
Constable Philippa Reynolds, who was killed in 2013

Although Frane’s minimum six-year tariff expired in 2019, he has remained behind bars.

In 2022 the authorities refused to free him because they could not be satisfied his imprisonment was no longer necessary to protect the public from serious harm.

Frane mounted a legal challenge against the Probation Board and the Prison Service for alleged failures to provide him with the “purposeful” periods of temporary release.

He claimed a breach of his right to liberty under European law.

Previous courts heard that in the past he completed both accompanied and unaccompanied temporary periods outside jail.

Following a failed drugs test his pre-release testing (PRT) was temporarily suspended but later reinstated.

In 2022 the High Court rejected Frane’s case after finding that it was his own personal misconduct which led to the PRT being put on hold.

An appeal was subsequently lodged in a bid to have that ruling overturned.

However, in January this year police declared Frane unlawfully at large after he breached the conditions of a further unaccompanied temporary release.

He was arrested in the Republic the following month on an extradition warrant sought by the PSNI.

Formally dismissing Frane’s legal action, Lord Justice McCloskey said those events meant the circumstances of the case had been “altered significantly”.

He added: “The notice of appeal discloses no coherent grounds of challenge to the order and judgment at first instance.”