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Man accused over fatal speedboat crash chose not to give evidence, court told

Jack Shepherd is being tried in his absence charged with the manslaughter of Charlotte Brown by gross negligence.

A man accused of killing his date in a speedboat crash on the Thames has “chosen” not to give evidence in his defence, a court has heard.

Web designer Jack Shepherd, 30, is being tried in his absence at the Old Bailey charged with the manslaughter of 23-year-old Charlotte Brown by gross negligence.

Ms Brown was thrown overboard when his speedboat hit a log and capsized towards the end of their champagne-fuelled first date on the evening of December 8 2015.

Shepherd, originally from Exeter, was found by rescuers clinging to the upturned boat near Wandsworth Bridge while Ms Brown was pulled from the water.

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Jack Shepherd is being tried in his absence at the Old Bailey (Steve Parsons/PA)

The jury has been told the boat, which was kept beside Shepherd’s Hammersmith houseboat, had a series of defects and none of the occupants wore life jackets.

It was said to be going “full throttle” before the collision while Ms Brown was at the wheel on the return journey from the Houses of Parliament.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC told jurors: “Was this not, on everything you have heard, sheer madness?”

Shepherd was not an “evil person” but took a “series of deliberate decisions along the way”, including alcohol, which resulted in him and Ms Brown being thrown into the river, the lawyer said.

Mr Jafferjee added: “He has pleaded not guilty and, as you learned yesterday, he has chosen not to go into that witness box and give some support evidentially to his not guilty plea, which means he could have if he chose to resile from a very detailed interview which amongst other things deals with speed at the critical time, and deals with drink – his words – ‘heavily’.

“It all remains uncontradicted because he has chosen not to contradict it and you return your verdict based on the evidence.”

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