Judge in Georgia rules on Jack Shepherd case
Jack Shepherd, who has been on the run from justice after being sentenced in his absence for manslaughter in July, has appeared in court in the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi where a judge ruled against a fast-track extradition to the UK.
According to reports Shepherd could now remain in Georgia for several months. He handed himself into Georgian authorities last week, after months on the run and will now remain in custody in Tbilisi.
Shepherd, 31, will now be heldin a Georgian jail despite Georgian prosecutors' attempts to return him to the UK urgently.
Shepherd claims he has received death threats and could be murdered if he goes to jail in Britain over the death of Charlotte Brown.
Shepherd told a judge last week that he has regrets over the deadly crash and fleeing the UK before his trial, "The decision to go out on the boat is my greatest regret. Not a single day passes when I don’t think about the loss of Charlotte’s life.
"I wish I had sat down with Charlotte’s family and explained what happened.
"I know it’s caused them even more suffering and that’s why I handed myself in to draw to a close this horrible accident and the terrible consequences."
Shepherd was sentenced in his absence to six years in jail at the Old Bailey in July for the manslaughter of 24-year-old Charlotte Brown.
Earlier this month, he won the right to appeal against his conviction, despite police admitting they had found no trace of him.
Prime Minister Theresa May then intervened, urging Shepherd to give himself up right away to face justice.
It transpired last week, after handing himself in to Georgian police, that the 31 year-old web designer, who was originally from Abergavenny in Wales but had recently lived on a houseboat in Hammersmith, had been hiding in Tbilisi since March last year.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, the law enforcement agency in the country, previously told the BBC it was working with the Met Police to track Shepherd.
Shepherd was found guilty of the manslaughter by gross neglicence of Charlotte, who drowned after he drunkenly flipped his boat while showing off late at night in Dcember 2015.
Before handing himself in, a bearded Shepherd, pictured above, spoke to Georgian station Rustavi TV, describing Charlotte's death as "a tragic accident" and claiming Charlotte was driving the boat at the time.
He said, "The boat had faults, but experts invited by my defence established that these faults developed when the boat was removed from the water.
"Charlotte was driving the boat when the accident happened but unfortunately this fact was forgotten and the media did not mention it either."
Shepherd pictured at the time of his original arrest
Ms Brown's sister Katie Brown said her family were "relieved" Shepherd had handed himself in but described him as "arrogant".
"To just stroll in with a very smug look on his face and to claim innocence is unbelievable. This is a small amount of justice for my sister."
Ms Brown's father Graham Brown said last week, "I feel very emotional at the fact that my daughter will get some justice."
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, he added,"I do think the family will be in a much better position to deal with our loss and heartbreak over the last three years."
Shepherd failed to attend his Old Bailey trial in July, where the court heard how he had allowed the Miss Brown to drive his defective speedboat at speed on the River Thames after dark and without a life jacket.
On Tuesday, 8 December 2015, Shepherd had met 24 year-old Charlotte, who preferred to be known as Charli, at a restaurant at the Shard. This was their first date and the pair consumed two bottles of wine before they both went back to his houseboat after Shepherd told Charli that he had a speedboat and they could take it out on the river.
They both took a taxi to his houseboat near Hammersmith Bridge. A message from Charli to her sister at 10.12pm said, "Still Alive. Waiting for the tide so we can take it out." When asked she confirmed that they were going out in Shepherd's speedboat.
Later that evening, the couple went out on the speedboat, called Arrowflyte and Shepherd described how he drove the boat from Hammersmith to central London and part of the way back. Neither were wearing lifejackets and Shepherd later told police there were two life jackets stored in the boat, but these were out of view. He also admitted that he did not tell Charli about the lifejackets or asked her if she could swim.
The pair continued drinking alcohol on the speedboat as he drove from Hammersmith Bridge to Waterloo Bridge. Shepherd stated that he was exceeding the speed limit of 12 knots for that stretch of the river and was probably driving erratically, but that he had done it lots of times in the past. He clarified that he normally drove the boat "flat out" on a straight stretch at approx. 30 mph, but 15 mph if there were obstructions in the river.
Charlotte 'Charli' Brown
A witness later told police that at about 11pm he was standing on the pontoon on the river when his attention was drawn to the noise of a boat engine and the sound of shrieks and laughter. He then saw a red Fletcher style boat driving erratically and at speed, which he thought especially unusual due to the late hour. He saw the boat continuing to make manoeuvres at speed before disappearing.
Another witness who lives near Wandsworth Bridge, told police she was watching TV when she was disturbed by the noise made from a boat. When she looked out she saw a poorly lit boat travelling along the Thames which she thought unusual given the time.
She watched it travel along the centre of the river before veering towards the mooring. She believed the boat was heading for shore, as the engine did not sound right. She witnessed it heading towards the mooring wall and then briefly lost sight before hearing a loud crash. After a few seconds she heard a man shouting for help and called police.
At about 11.43pm the speedboat collided with a submerged or partially submerged object in the water, believed to be a tree trunk or piece of timber, which the court were told was not uncommon in the Thames.
Due to the boat's speed and its position in the water, (believed to be caused by taking last minute evasive action to avoid the object) it capsized a few hundred yards before Wandsworth Bridge.
Charli was recovered from the water at 12.10am by the Marine Units and they tried to revive her with CPR whilst they took her to shore. Once there paramedics took over and continued CPR and all available efforts to try to resuscitate her, but despite the efforts of the emergency services Miss Brown never regained consciousness. She was pronounced dead at St George's Hospital at 1.55 am on 9 December 2015.
January 30, 2019