Family of woman killed during speedboat date overwhelmed at fugitive’s arrest
Jack Shepherd surrenders to Georgian police six months after manslaughter conviction
Jack Shepherd speaks to the media at the police station in Tbilisi, Georgia on January 23rd. Photograph: Rustavi2 via AP
The family of the woman killed on a speedboat date have said they are overwhelmed with emotion after the fugitive convicted over her death was arrested in Georgia.
Jack Shepherd surrendered at a police station in the nation’s capital of Tbilisi on Wednesday – six months after he was convicted of 24-year-old Charlotte Brown’s manslaughter.
Ms Brown’s family had increased their calls for the 31-year-old to hand himself in after he fled justice ahead of his trial at the Old Bailey.
A heavily-bearded Shepherd smiled as he walked into the station some 2,000 miles away while flanked by lawyers.
He vowed to local reporters he would clear his name over the “tragic accident”.
Ms Brown’s father, Graham Brown, celebrated the “overwhelming” development, writing on Facebook: “Justice for Charlotte is close!”
“My opinions towards Jack Shepherd is that he’s a very crass, reckless man, who managed to abscond and stick two fingers up at the judiciary,” Mr Brown told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“He’s got to come back to atone for all that and I think that he’s done the right thing and thank goodness he’s realised that now and handed himself in.”
Ms Brown, from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, died in December 2015 when Shepherd’s boat flipped into the wintry waters of the River Thames in London after they shared a Champagne-fuelled first date.
Shepherd, originally from Exeter, was sentenced in his absence to six years in prison for manslaughter by gross negligence in July.
The family of Ms Brown, known to loved ones as Charli, ramped up pressure in recent weeks and renewed their calls for Shepherd to surrender after they met with Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Tuesday.
A day later Shepherd – wearing a long coat, jeans and a checked scarf – waved and smiled as he walked into the station from a black car, footage on Georgian television station Rustavi2 showed.
Speaking to journalists, he said: “Yes, my name is Jack Shepherd. I was involved in a tragic accident . . . in which a lady called Charlotte Brown tragically died.”
Billed by the network as an “exclusive interview”, Shepherd added he hopes “justice will be done” with his pending appeal against the conviction.
He continued to say he hopes “I can just”, before pausing to correct himself and add, “everybody can move forward with their lives”.
Ms Brown’s sister Katie told BBC News that Shepherd’s “smug” TV appearance portrayed “a very arrogant man”.
“I don’t understand how someone can go on the run for two crimes and be found guilty and still then just walk straight in with a very smug look on his face and claim innocence,” she said.
His arrest was first confirmed by the Georgian embassy in London, with a spokesman saying: “He has just surrendered himself to the Georgian Police and now the police undertakes relevant detaining formalities.”
Mr Javid, who a day earlier warned “there can be no hiding place” for Shepherd, celebrated the web designer’s arrest.
“We will seek to swiftly extradite him to Britain. It is vital Charlotte Brown’s family see justice done,” he added.
The family’s MP, James Brokenshire, said Shepherd’s “wanton and selfish actions” had heaped further strain on the family “at a time of unimaginable grief”.
“Nothing can take away their loss, but I hope this may now offer some sense of justice,” the Communities Secretary added.
Scotland Yard, the force leading the investigation, said officers had been updated by the National Crime Agency on the development and are awaiting confirmation of Shepherd’s identity.
The Metropolitan Police added that once identity was secured extradition proceedings “will begin immediately” against Shepherd, who was the subject of an international arrest warrant.
Georgian law states that extradition is granted over convicted individuals if they have been sentenced to at least four months’ imprisonment.
While Shepherd was on the run, his lawyers have been working to appeal against the conviction.
Solicitor Richard Egan: “In the light of today’s developments I don’t think it would be appropriate to comment further until Mr Shepherd is back in the jurisdiction.”
The Crown Prosecution Service was on Wednesday night drafting an extradition request.
The Foreign Office said: “We thank the Georgian Police for their efforts and co-operation. We are working closely with the local authorities.” – PA