Speedboat fugitive Jack Shepherd has been hauled before the Old Bailey today to be sent to jail for killing Charlotte Brown.
The 31-year-old stood in the dock of Court No.8 looking sullen as he finally faced justice and pleaded guilty to breaching bail and absconding before his manslaughter trial.
Miss Brown’s father, Graham Brown, mother Roz Wickens and two sisters Katie and Vicky stared at him from the public gallery five yards away. It was their first chance to look Shepherd in the eye since he went on the run.
Wearing the same jeans as yesterday, and a navy blue jacket, website designer Shepherd stared impassively ahead in the glass-panelled dock, flanked by two prison guards.
Miss Brown’s mother and sisters and father fixed their eyes on him – but he did not return their look.
But his barrister told the court he regretted his decision to flee and was ‘ashamed’ of his actions.
Shepherd, originally of Devon, spent last night in a police cell after being extradited from Georgia. He skipped bail to make the former Soviet republic his bolthole for 10 months before being flushed out by the Daily Mail.
After handing himself in to police on January 23, he fought extradition for two months before finally being flown back to the UK on Wednesday.
Charlotte Brown’s family, pictured, have arrived at the Old Bailey this morning where they will come face to face with Jack Shepherd for the first time since he fled the country after being convicted of manslaughter. Charlotte’s mother Roz, second left, and father Graham, right, were accompanied by members of their legal team and police liaison officers
Charlotte’s sister Katie, pictured left, has been accompanied to court by father Graham, mother Roz and sister Vicky, right
Shepherd, pictured on his flight from Georgia to the UK yesterday, admitted breaching bail and absconding from his manslaughter trial at the Old Bailey today
Charlotte Brown who died after a speedboat crash on the Thames in December 2015. She was on a first date with Shepherd
Mother Roz Wickens, pictured centre, looked solemn as she arrived at court with the family’s legal team
The family entered the court at around 9am, pictured, with Shepherd on the stand at 9.30am
Even on the plane home, he remained convinced of his innocence, telling the Mail he was the victim of a ‘miscarriage of justice’.
Judge Richard Marks QC suggested Shepherd had only handed himself in when the ‘net was closing in’.
The court heard the defendant had travelled to Georgia in March 2018 and was in phone contact with his lawyers on May 14.
Addressing defence lawyer Andrew McGee, the judge said: ‘It was widely publicised your client was understood to be in Georgia and against that background it does seem to me this is not a case of somebody who entirely off his own bat has thought better of his situation and decided to surrender rather that this was somebody who realised the net was closing in and that was the background in which he surrendered.’
Mr McGee said: ‘It’s not a case of Mr Shepherd realising the net was closing in.’
He said Shepherd was ‘ashamed’ of failing to attend his trial and now recognised it was ‘cowardly’.
But he said it was ‘not deliberately callous or cavalier’ nor was it ‘cynical or calculated’.
The lawyer, who acknowledged the ‘upset to the Brown family’, admitted Shepherd had received daily transcripts of the evidence in his trial while he was absent.
He added his client travelled ‘under his own name, using his own passport’.
Shepherd last appeared at the Old Bailey in November 2017, when he denied manslaughter.
Shepherd is getting legal aid to fund an appeal against his conviction for the manslaughter by gross negligence of Miss Brown, who died after his defective speedboat capsized on the River Thames on their first date in December 2015.
He was pictured in handcuffs on the Georgian Airways flight to London Gatwick yesterday and touched down at around 9.20pm last night before being taken into custody by the Met Police.
Speaking to reporters on board his flight from Tbilisi to London, Shepherd said he regretted not speaking to Miss Brown’s family sooner after her death and called it the ‘second biggest mistake’ of his life.
Asked why he did not stay to defend himself in court, he said: ‘I wasn’t thinking at the time, I was acting on emotion and fear and I made a mistake. But now I’m trying to make amends.’
When asked why he handed himself in Shepherd said it was ‘the right thing to do’ and that he ‘wanted to end the suffering his running away had caused’.
Angela Deal, head of extradition at the CPS said: ‘Jack Shepherd has returned to the UK to face justice following close co-operation between the CPS Extradition Unit, UK colleagues and the Georgian authorities, to ensure a successful extradition.
‘He will first appear at the Old Bailey to be sentenced for the gross negligence manslaughter conviction in connection with the death of Charlotte Brown, and then at a later date in the south west over the grievous bodily harm charge.’
He will be sent to jail to belatedly start his six-year jail sentence for the manslaughter of Miss Brown, who died when his speedboat flipped on the River Thames on their first date.
Shepherd reading a book while in shackles as his flight from Tbilisi touched down at Gatwick last night
Shepherd pictured being led away from his prison cell to a flight bound for the UK yesterday
He could also face extra jail time for his decision to run away. He skipped bail ahead of his Old Bailey trial last year and fled to Georgia where he began a new life in the former Soviet republic.
Shepherd looked grim faced yesterday as he departed his Georgian prison cell where he has been locked up since being arrested in January.
How the speedboat killer case unfolded
December 8 2015: Jack Shepherd and Charlotte Brown meet for a date where he takes her to the Shard for dinner, before taking a taxi back to Shepherd’s home, a houseboat in Hammersmith, where they took champagne on board his speedboat for their ride past parliament.
March 2018: Shepherd was charged with GBH following an incident in which he allegedly knocked a barman unconscious with a vodka bottle in a pub while ‘blind drunk’. He then failed to appear at a hearing for that case at the Old Bailey regarding Miss Brown’s manslaughter.
July 2018: An international arrest warrant is issued for Shepherd
July 26 2018: Shepherd, despite being absent from court was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence
July 27 2018: Shepherd is sentenced to six years’ imprisonment – Shepherd’s wife is then said to have told police that the 33-year-old had travelled to Georgia.
December 2018: Shepherd is granted leave to appeal against his conviction despite still being on the run.
January 22 2019: Family of Charlotte meet with Savid Javid before making a television appeal for Shepherd to ‘do the right thing’
January 23 2019: Shepherd hands himself in to police in Georgia
March 26, 2019: Shepherd agrees to be extradited back to the UK following a hearing at Tbilisi City Court.
April 10, 2019: Shepherd is flown back to the UK in handcuffs and is handed over to the Met Police after arriving at London Gatwick at around 9.20pm.
April 11, 2019: Shepherd admits breaching bail and absconding before his trial at the Old Bailey in front of Miss Brown’s family.
Wearing an open neck white shirt, navy blazer and blue jeans, he was taken by prison van to the airport where he was handed over to the custody of two Metropolitan Police officers for the flight to London.
On board the flight from Tbilisi, Shepherd also told the press why he was appealing the decision to charge him.
He said: ‘Charlotte’s family appealed the CPS decision not to prosecute me after nine months. They appealed that decision and now I’m appealing this one.’
Shepherd admitted he felt responsible for Charlotte Brown’s death, but not to the extent of manslaughter, and said he wished he had spoken to her family in the aftermath of the tragedy to explain what happened, before the case came to court.
He added: ‘I regret that I did not speak to [Charlotte’s family] sooner. I see that now. I wasn’t thinking at the time, I was acting on emotional and fear and I made a mistake.’
He also claimed he did not leave Miss Brown in the water to drown and added that he told rescuers to ‘leave me in the water and find her’.
A trial went ahead without him in summer 2018 and a jury found him guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence because his speedboat was defective and Shepherd – who styled himself ‘Captain Jack’ – was drunk when it capsized.
He told reports he was prepared for prison life and that he had received legal advice that suggested his appeal would be successful.
Shepherd was on the run for 10 months until a Mail investigation tracked him down in Georgia.
He handed himself in to police on January 23, but spent two months fighting extradition, saying he wanted to stay in Georgia, where he found a glamorous new girlfriend, amateur model Maiko Tchanturidze, 24, who is the same age as Miss Brown when she died.
She wept when she said goodbye in his prison in the capital Tbilisi earlier this week and vowed to stay true to him, saying: ‘I will come to England to visit him in prison, if I can get a visa.’
Amateur model Miss Tchanturidze, 24, declared she would wait for Shepherd and would apply for a visa to visit him in jail in London.
Shepherd, who is married with a young son, will appear at the Old Bailey on Thursday where a judge is expected to order him to belatedly start his six-year sentence for the manslaughter of Miss Brown.
Shepherd is pictured in the back of a police van as he is taken to a local airport ahead of his flight to Britain this afternoon
Maiko Tchanturidze at a court in Tbilisi last month for an extradition hearing for her boyfriend Jack Shepherd
He was represented at court in Georgia by former model Mariam Kublashvili, pictured
Shepherd caused outrage by launching an appeal – funded by legal aid – from his hideaway and the Daily Mail offered a £25,000 reward in the hunt to find him.
He started dating Miss Tchanturidze, a former TV journalist, within weeks of his arrival in the former Soviet republic, but neglected to tell her he was a wanted fugitive.
After eight months together, he tearfully confessed to being a convicted killer shortly before handing himself in to police on January 23, but told her the accident was not his fault.
Yesterday she said: ‘I will definitely stand by him. I can’t wait to see him again. Jack is fearful about what will happen, but he is holding it together.
‘Saying goodbye was an emotional moment. But I know I will see him again. I will come to England to visit him in prison, if I can get a visa.’
Miss Tchanturidze – who took Shepherd to meet her family in Kutaisi, 140 miles west of the capital, last October – has previously said: ‘He is the best person in the world. Everything the media is saying about him is false.’
Shepherd’s glamorous Georgian lawyer Mariam Kublashvili also paid him a final visit before his departure.
The former model, who starred on Georgia’s version of Strictly Come Dancing, said: ‘I felt like I was going to cry. This may be the last time we’ll see each other.’
No date has yet been set for Shepherd’s appeal, which is based on perceived legal errors made by the judge in relation to his police interview.
He has issued a reluctant apology to Miss Brown’s parents but still blames her, insisting she was driving at the time the speedboat capsized.
Whenever he is free again, he has said he will not return to his wife but wants to secure access to his two-year-old son.
During the Old Bailey trial jurors were told Shepherd’s speedboat was found to have a number of defects
At his trial, jurors heard Shepherd used the speedboat as part of his ‘seduction routine’ and he may have taken up to ten women on a boozy cruise.
After meeting online, Shepherd and Ms Brown shared two bottles of wine over dinner at The Oblix restaurant in The Shard.
He invited her back to his Hammersmith houseboat where they had more drinks and then out for a high-speed champagne sightseeing tour in his red speedboat.
Ms Brown can be heard yelling: ‘Oh my God, you’re going so fast’ as she made a video on their way up to the Houses of Parliament.
But the encounter went horribly wrong when Shepherd decided to hand the wheel to Ms Brown.
The speedboat capsized opposite Plantation Wharf, near Wandsworth Bridge and Shepherd was found clinging to upturned bow of the boat.
Witnesses described hearing him shouting out ‘Help me’, rather than ‘Help us’.
He was unsteady on his feet and still reeked of alcohol after lifeguards hauled him from the river.
Charlotte was found dead or dying when she was pulled out of the icy water after a frantic search.
Last year Shepherd’s barrister Stephen Vullo, QC, said he failed to come to court out of ‘cowardice’ because he could not face Ms Brown’s family knowing how much they have suffered.
Shepherd started dating Miss Tchanturidze, a former TV journalist, within weeks of his arrival in the former Soviet republic