Spokesman says 'Jack Shepherd should give himself up right away to face justice'
Prime Minister Theresa May has intervened in the row over speedboat killer Jack Shepherd, who has been given the right to appeal against his conviction, despite having been on the run from the law for nearly ten months.
Shepherd, who had been living on a houseboat in Hammersmith, was convicted of killing his date Charlotte Brown on the Thames near Wandsworth Bridge in December 2015.
The 31 year-old web designer was found guilty, in his absence, in July 2018 of the manslaughter by gross neglicence of 24 year-old Charlotte, who drowned after he drunkenly flipped his boat. Shepherd was sentenced to six years in jail.
Since then an international manhunt has failed to find any trace of Shepherd. The decision to grant leave to appeal his conviction with the help of legal aid has caused outrage and prompted David Gauke, the Justice Secretary, to vow to examine legal aid rules.
This week the Prime Minister's official spokesman acknowledged that the case has raised "significant public concerns".
The spokesman added, "The Prime Minister's strongest sympathies are with the family of Charlotte Brown, and Jack Shepherd should give himself up right away to face justice.
"The Metropolitan Police are rightly doing all they can to track down Shepherd to bring him to face justice.
"The Prime Minister understands and sympathises with the significant public concerns around this case.
"That is why the Ministry of Justice is looking into the case and the issues that it raises."
Meanwhile Graham Brown, Charlotte’s father, told the Daily Telegraph he has "no confidence" the police are actively seeking Shepherd.
“I suspect police haven’t got a clue where he is,” Mr Brown said. "They’ve posted him missing on Interpol and that’s about it. I would question what kind of priority and resources they’re putting into finding him. I believe that if they threw enough resources at it, they would find him.
“I have got no confidence, actually, that the authorities are actively looking for him.”
Mr Brown also criticised Shepherd’s family, who are based in Devon, for failing to speak out publicly and urge him to hand himself in.
This month, Scotland Yard's Detective chief inspector Mick Norman admitted, "Shepherd is subject to an international arrest warrant; however since he failed to appear in court for his trial there has been no tangible trace of him."
It was confirmed in August that Mr Shepherd's lawyers had lodged an appeal against his conviction and sentence, and the Court of Appeal has now confirmed that a judge has given permission to appeal against the conviction, with the appeal funded by legal aid.
Shepherd failed to attend his Old Bailey trial in July, when the court heard how he had allowed Miss Brown to drive his defective boat at speed on the River Thames after dark and without a life jacket.
Jack Shepherd is from Abergavenny, Wales but also lived on a houseboat in Hammersmith.
The court heard how 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 Shepherd's houseboat after he 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 Shepherd 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 approximately 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 heard is 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 from Wandsworth Bridge.
Eye witnesses who were walking along the river path, and also residents from flats on both side of the river, reported hearing a man calling for help from the river. Shepherd was eventually located clinging to the upturned speedboat and informed police and the RNLI that his girlfriend had been with him.
Charli was recovered from the water at 12.10am by the Marine Units but despite the efforts of the emergency services Miss Brown never regained consciousness. She was pronounced dead at St George's Hospital at 1.55am on 9 December 2015.
Shepherd was last seen in March 2018 in Devon, and anyone who may know his whereabouts is urged to call police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers
For an immediate sighting, call 999.
January 4, 2019
January 15, 2019