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Jack Shepherd: Speedboat killer jailed after fleeing UK

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Media captionCharlotte Brown's sister Katie made a tearful statement outside court after Shepherd was sentenced

A man who killed a woman in a speedboat crash has been jailed for an extra six months for fleeing the country.

Jack Shepherd fled before he was sentenced to six years for the manslaughter of Charlotte Brown, who died in the crash on the River Thames.

He returned to the UK on Wednesday night after 10 months on the run.

Shepherd, 31, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to breaching bail and absconding and was sent to prison to begin his six-and-a-half-year sentence.

Judge Richard Marks said: "Charlotte's family were, of course, devastated by the circumstances by which she met her death, and those feelings were greatly exacerbated by the fact you chose to go on the run.

"Your conduct in absenting yourself from justice for so long was as cowardly as it was selfish."

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Media captionSpeaking on the plane back from Georgia, Jack Shepherd said he regretted going on the run

Speaking outside court, Ms Brown's father Graham said the family felt "a sense of relief".

He said: "Due to Shepherd's recklessness and negligent actions Charlotte isn't here to defend herself."

Her sister Katie said Shepherd had "continued to prolong our agony, making wild accusations against our family".

She said his "lack of respect and decency still continues to astound us".

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Charlotte Brown died in December 2015 when Shepherd took her on a date on his speedboat

Defence barrister Andrew McGee said Shepherd had travelled to Georgia in March last year.

He said he had travelled "under his own name, using his own passport" before he handed himself in to police in Tbilisi in January.

Mr McGee said Shepherd was "overwhelmed by his fear" of a prison sentence.

He added: "It [absconding] was not deliberately callous or cavalier. It was not cynical or calculated."

From the court

By Helena Lee, BBC News Correspondent at the Old Bailey

Charlotte Brown's family - her mother, father and two sisters - were just metres away from the glass dock and got a clear view of Jack Shepherd when he was brought in by two guards.

They glanced over at him. He, though, didn't look at them or up at the public gallery.

Instead he stared ahead and listened as Judge Richard Marks told him his deliberate decision to go on the run hugely added to the distress of Charlotte's family.

The family had been waiting months for this day to come, the day they got to see the man convicted of Charlotte's manslaughter finally start serving his sentence.

Judge Marks said Shepherd was in contact with his lawyers from his "hideaway" during legal proceedings.

He added: "You were, in effect, having your cake and eating it. That is not how our system of justice is supposed to work."

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Shepherd's boat was found to have several defects

During his trial, jurors heard that Shepherd and Ms Brown went on a late-night high-speed jaunt in his boat past the Houses of Parliament on their first date on 8 December 2015.

The pair were both thrown from the boat when it hit branches in the water near Wandsworth Bridge.

Ms Brown, from Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, was found in the water unconscious and unresponsive, while Shepherd was discovered clinging to the upturned boat.

His trial was told that he was responsible for the speedboat, which had a series of serious defects, including to its steering.

Shepherd, originally from Exeter, last appeared at the Old Bailey in January last year when he denied manslaughter and was released on unconditional bail.

But he failed to show up for his trial and sentencing in July.

Shepherd has since been granted the right to appeal against his conviction.

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