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Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd comes face-to-face with victim’s family in court

He touched down at Gatwick airport on Wednesday night after he handed himself in at Tblisi.

Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd being led to a police van (Special Penitentiary Service of Georgia/PA)
Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd being led to a police van (Special Penitentiary Service of Georgia/PA)

Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd has come face-to-face with his victim’s parents in court after being extradited from Georgia.

The 31-year-old web developer admitted breaching bail and absconding as he was brought before the Old Bailey for the first time since he ran away to avoid his trial for the manslaughter of Charlotte Brown.

He stared ahead in the dock and did not look at his victim’s parents in court following his extradition from Georgia.

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Charlotte Brown’s family were in court (Met Police/PA)

Shepherd touched down at Gatwick airport on Wednesday night after he handed himself in at Tblisi.

He appeared in the dock wearing a dark suit, light shirt and no tie, flanked by two guards.

Judge Richard Marks QC suggested Shepherd had only handed himself in when the “net was closing in”.

The court heard the defendant had travelled to Georgia in March 2018 and was in phone contact with his lawyers on May 14.

Addressing defence lawyer Andrew McGee, the judge said: “It was widely publicised your client was understood to be in Georgia and against that background it does seem to me this is not a case of somebody who entirely off his own bat has thought better of his situation and decided to surrender rather that this was somebody who realised the net was closing in and that was the background in which he surrendered.”

Mr McGee said: “It’s not a case of Mr Shepherd realising the net was closing in.”

He said Shepherd was “ashamed” of failing to attend his trial and now recognised it was “cowardly”.

But he said it was “not deliberately callous or cavalier” nor was it “cynical or calculated”.

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The speedboat owned by Web designer Jack Shepherd (Met Police/PA)

The lawyer, who acknowledged the “upset to the Brown family”, admitted Shepherd had received daily transcripts of the evidence in his trial while he was absent.

He added his client travelled “under his own name, using his own passport”.

He last appeared at the Old Bailey in November 2017, when he denied manslaughter.

Ms Brown’s parents and both sisters sat to the side of the court with a clear view of Shepherd.

Last year, Shepherd was found guilty in his absence of Ms Brown’s manslaughter in a speedboat accident on the Thames and sentenced to six years in jail.

Afterwards, the 24-year-old victim’s devastated parents Graham Brown and Roz Wickens expressed their anger at his failure to face the consequences, having attended every day of his trial.

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The family of Charlotte Brown arrive at the Old Bailey (Victoria Jones/PA)

After 10 months on the run, Shepherd, originally from Exeter, was brought before the trial judge for the execution of a bench warrant for breaching bail.

His Old Bailey trial last June was told that Shepherd was responsible for his speedboat, which had a series of serious defects, including to its steering.

Jurors heard how he and Ms Brown had been drinking champagne and went on a late night high speed jaunt in his boat past the Houses of Parliament on their first date in December 2015.

Shepherd had handed the controls to Ms Brown just before it capsized, tipping both of them into the cold water, the court was told.

The defendant was plucked from the Thames alive, but his date was killed.

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Shepherd was extradited from Georgia on Wednesday (Special Penitentiary Service of Georgia/PA)

As he returned to Britain on Wednesday night, Shepherd said he had acted on “emotion and fear” when he fled the UK and now wants to “make amends”.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid thanked the Georgian authorities for their assistance on Twitter, adding: “Charlotte Brown’s family have endured immeasurable pain & are now one step closer to getting the justice they deserve.”

Shepherd has already launched an appeal against his conviction.

PA

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