Speedboat killer not at sentencing due to ‘cowardice’

A speedboat owner who has been jailed for six years after his date died in a crash failed to show up for his sentencing due to "cowardice".

Jack Shepherd's barrister Stephen Vullo QC made the comments before his client was handed the jail term at the Old Bailey in London.

The 30-year-old, originally from Exeter, Devon, had been convicted in his absence of manslaughter by gross negligence over the death of Charlotte Brown.

It can now be reported that Shepherd skipped bail and failed to attend his trial.

He gave instructions to his legal time by phone, but police were unable to track him down and his whereabouts were unknown.

It is unclear if officers are aware of his location after he was handed his jail term on Friday.

Image: Charlotte Brown was killed after she was thrown from the boat in 2015

Ms Brown's family had pleaded with him to attend court to face sentencing.

Her sister Katie Brown said in a statement on behalf of the family: "The immense pain and anguish we feel will never pass and our grief will last a lifetime."

She added: "We now appeal to Jack Shepherd wherever he is in the world to return and assume the responsibility of his guilt and the devastation he caused by his actions that fateful night – we appeal to Jack Shepherd's family and friends to appeal to him and urge him to face the consequences of his actions."

Shepherd had been trying to impress Ms Brown, 24, after meeting her on the dating website OkCupid, the court heard.

Their champagne-fuelled date ended in tragedy when his boat capsized on the River Thames in central London and Ms Brown was thrown into the water in December 2015.

Shepherd had bought the 14ft Fletcher Arrowflyte GTO speedboat from Gumtree to "pull women", the court heard.

Ms Brown's father Graham, sister Katie and mother Roz Wicken, right, arriving at the Old Bailey during the trial
Image: Ms Brown's father Graham, sister Katie and mother Roz Wicken, right, arriving at the Old Bailey during the trial

In the months before Ms Brown's death he had entertained up to 10 women on the 1980s model, having invited them back to his houseboat in Hammersmith.

During that time, he had been caught speeding by marine police more than once and advised on the importance of wearing life jackets.

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Mr Vullo said Shepherd married a childhood friend shortly after the fatal crash and now has a two-year-old child.

He added that the relationship broke down and Shepherd has struggled to gain work because of his drinking and links to the case.

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