Family celebrates as judge in Georgia grants speedboat killer’s extradition
The father of Jack Shepherd's victim believes justice is edging closer after a judge in Georgia ruled the speedboat killer must be extradited to the UK where he will begin his prison sentence.
A court in Tbilisi approved Britain's extradition request on Tuesday after Shepherd said he wishes to take part in an appeal against his conviction over the death of 24-year-old Charlotte Brown.
The pair had been on a first date when Shepherd's speedboat overturned, fatally plunging Ms Brown into the icy water of the River Thames in London.
Shepherd fled his manslaughter trial at the Old Bailey, but the fugitive surrendered to authorities in Georgia six months after being found guilty in his absence.
The 31-year-old was sentenced to six years' imprisonment but has been granted permission to appeal against the conviction.
He told the Tbilisi court that he made the "difficult decision" to not contest extradition "because I wish to participate in the appeal process, to fight for my freedom and to be reunited with those I love, my family, my son".
However, Graham Brown said the reality was Shepherd had a weak case and "no choice" but to return, as the father celebrated the extradition ruling.
"It brings it a bit closer that we are going to get justice for Charlotte. We are pleased it appears to be coming to an end," Mr Brown told ITV News.
"We're hoping that he won't follow through with his appeal, which causes the family more anguish, but I guess that could be a forlorn hope."
One of Shepherd's lawyers in Georgia, Tariel Kakabadze, estimated Shepherd could return to the UK within two weeks.
Shepherd also faces a grievous bodily harm charge over an alleged assault in Devon on March 16 last year.
A warrant for his arrest was issued by magistrates in Newton Abbot after he failed to attend the court.
No date has yet been set for the appeal hearing.
Shepherd's legal team had mulled fighting extradition altogether and successfully delayed his return by convincing a judge to rule out a fast-tracked process. The Crown Prosecution Service formally requested his extradition on March 1.
Shepherd appeared at the Old Bailey on January 26 last year to deny manslaughter by gross negligence but jurors were made aware of his absence at the start of his trial in July.
In January, the web designer, originally from Exeter, handed himself in to authorities in Tbilisi, where he has been detained ever since.
The family of Ms Brown, from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, have fought a battle for justice following her death in December 2015.