London

Speedboat killer lawyer may agree to extradition

Jack Shepherd Image copyright Steve Parsons
Image caption Jack Shepherd has been convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence

The Georgian lawyer of a man found guilty of killing a woman in a speedboat crash has told the BBC she is considering agreeing to his extradition if she can be sure it would be "safe".

In January, a judge ruled against a petition to quickly extradite Jack Shepherd back to the UK.

Lawyer Mariam Kublashvili said a decision would now be made over their next step within 10 days.

She also accused the UK government of painting Shepherd as "dangerous".

Shepherd was convicted of the manslaughter by gross negligence of Charlotte Brown in July, but fled to Georgia.

Image caption Mariam Kublashvili denied claims she was being paid through the British legal aid system

Ms Kublashvili told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme that she "fought the immediate extradition request because we believe all the extradition procedures - that is [in] Georgian and international law - should be respected and followed.

"We need to make sure that extradition is safe for him and we won't have any issues in a United Kingdom prison," she added.

"If there is a reason to fight extradition, we will fight. But if there is a reason to support his extradition, we will [support it]."

Mrs Kublashvili has previously said Shepherd "preferred" to serve his sentence in Georgia.

But she now dismissed claims that he was seeking Georgian citizenship so that he did not have to return to the UK.

Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Charlotte Brown died in December 2015

The lawyer accused the UK government and politicians of making Shepherd look like "a serial criminal and dangerous person", and that he would "have problems in a British prison".

When it was asserted that he was a criminal under UK law, having been convicted of manslaughter, she said: "He's not a criminal because he did not want this unfortunate incident [to happen]."

She also told Victoria Derbyshire that her client had a "complex" psychological state and that there was "reason to believe that it has emerged he was suffering from acute depression".

Mrs Kublashvili added: "He was in shock and agony after the witch-hunt from the tabloid press, from the injustice [of his UK conviction] and above all because of the tragedy that has happened," she added - saying that she wanted to "invite international experts" to assess him.

She said, in prison, he was now building a bird table - having been unable to understand the Georgian-language television in his cell.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption The speedboat was taken to the Old Bailey car park to be inspected by jurors during the trial

Shepherd was convicted in his absence at the Old Bailey and sentenced to six years following the death of Ms Brown, when the pair were thrown overboard in December 2015.

Ms Brown, 24, had been on a date with Shepherd on the River Thames when the crash happened.

Asked if Shepherd had a message for Ms Brown's family, she said he "wants really to tell them what he is experiencing, and talk about the details of the fateful day".

Ms Kublashvili added: "He wants to explain that it was not his fault and that he could not prevent what eventually happened."

She also denied the "rumours and lies that have been reported [in the UK] by the tabloid press" in which she was said to have received £50,000 of British legal aid to defend him.

"That is an outright lie," she added.

She said her fee had been paid for by Shepherd, and that it was "nominal, but confidential".

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