On-the-run speedboat killer launches appeal

A web designer convicted of killing his date in a speedboat crash on the Thames has launched an appeal – despite being on the run.

Jack Shepherd, 30, has been in hiding since he was found guilty of the manslaughter by gross negligence of 24-year-old Charlotte Brown.

Shepherd failed to attend his July trial and was sentenced to six years in jail in his absence at the Old Bailey, having skipped bail.

An arrest warrant was issued while Ms Brown’s family called for him to face justice and The Sun newspaper put up a £10,000 reward.

On Thursday, a Court of Appeal official confirmed Shepherd’s lawyers had lodged an appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Scotland Yard has confirmed the missing defendant was “still outstanding”.

On whether Shepherd had fled the country, a spokesman said: “We are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry.”

Ms Brown died in December 2015 after being thrown from Shepherd’s speeding boat during a champagne-fuelled late-night jaunt past the Houses of Parliament.

The court heard Shepherd had met Ms Brown on a dating website and had been trying to impress her at the end of their first date at the Shard.

After handing her the controls, the boat hit a submerged log and capsized, sending Ms Brown into the cold water.

Shepherd was rescued, having been found clinging to the upturned hull, while his date was recovered unconscious.

Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC told jurors it was “sheer madness” to take the boat out that night.

Jurors heard that life jackets had been tucked away, the kill cord was not connected, and the boat had a number of defects including faulty steering.

The defendant, who lived on a houseboat in Hammersmith and was originally from Exeter, had denied manslaughter.

He had informed his lawyers before the trial he did not plan to attend but continued to be in contact with them throughout.

At his sentencing, Shepherd’s lawyer Stephen Vullo QC said his client could not face the Brown family in the dock and his decision not to come was “cowardice”.

Tuckers Solicitors confirmed that Shepherd had absconded and they did not know where he is, despite “intermittent” contact.

They said he had asked his counsel if he had grounds for appeal, was told that he does and then instructed his lawyers to submit these.

Andrew Katzen, of law firm Hickman and Rose, said lawyers were bound by confidentiality in cases like Shepherd’s.

He said: “A lawyer’s obligation to maintain confidentiality will almost always override any sense of civic duty in assisting the police.

“Lawyers are required not to help track down a missing client other than in the most exceptional circumstances.

“Advising a client to abscond or remain a fugitive would amount to professional misconduct and no lawyer should ever do this.

“However, lawyers have professional duties of confidentiality to clients which prevent them revealing a client’s whereabouts in circumstances where the client wants this information to remain secret.”

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