World News

Fugitive speedboat killer arrested in Georgia

Posted January 24, 2019 7:32 a.m. EST

— The family of a woman who died in a speedboat accident in London while on a first date have spoken of their relief that the man responsible has been arrested.

Jack Shepherd, 31, handed himself in to police in Georgia, a former republic of the Soviet Union, on Wednesday, according to the country's embassy in London. The British web designer, who has spent months on the run, was found guilty last July of Charlotte Brown's manslaughter by gross negligence and sentenced to six years in prison in his absence.

Shepherd, who fled the UK while on bail awaiting trial at London's Old Bailey criminal court, was subject to international arrest warrants. He surrendered at a police station in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.

Efforts to extradite him back to Britain are now underway, according to the country's Home Secretary, Sajid Javid. He told the UK's Press Association (PA) news agency that it is "vital Charlotte Brown's family see justice done."

A spokesman for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in a statement to CNN: "We thank the Georgian Police for their efforts and co-operation. We can confirm a British man has been detained in Georgia. We are working closely with the local authorities." CNN has also contacted the UK Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service.

Brown, 24, who was known to friends and family as Charlie, was killed while on a first date with Shepherd in December 2015. He had taken her out on his speedboat on the River Thames after drinking large amounts of wine and champagne.

The trial was told that he had been going at twice the legal speed limit, before inviting Brown to take the helm, PA reported. But after hitting a submerged item, the boat flipped. Shepherd was later found clinging to the hull, while Brown was pulled unconscious from the freezing water.

Flanked by lawyers, Shepherd was photographed smiling as he walked into the Georgian police station on Wednesday.

Hearing the news of Shepherd's surrender, Brown's father, Graham Brown -- who has long campaigned for justice for his daughter -- wrote on Facebook: "Just been informed that Jack Shepherd has been arrested in Georgia. Justice for Charlotte is close!"

Responding, the victim's best friend, Lottie Hare, wrote: "I'm honestly so happy I could cry!"

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Brown said of the development: "My opinions towards Jack Shepherd is that he's a very crass, reckless man, who managed to abscond and stick two fingers up at the judiciary.

"He's got to come back to atone for all that and I think that he's done the right thing and thank goodness he's realized that now and handed himself in."

The Georgian television station Rustavi2 broadcast footage of Shepherd entering the police station and saying that he hopes "justice will be done." He added: "My name is Jack Shepherd. I was involved in a tragic accident... in which a lady called Charlotte Brown tragically died."

Speaking to PA, Shepherd's lawyer, Tariel Kakabadze, said he may go before a court in Tbilisi on Thursday or Friday, but suggested it may be "some time" before he returns to the UK.

"Extradition doesn't happen in one or two days. All the documents will need to be translated, many things will need to be made ready," he said.

"Depending on what evidence they show us... it might be very soon or it might be several months."