Relief of Charlotte Brown’s family after her killer Jack Shepherd loses appeal
The family of Charlotte Brown have spoken of their relief after her killer Jack Shepherd lost an appeal against his conviction for her manslaughter.
Shepherd was jailed for six years over the death of the 24-year-old, who was thrown from his boat when it capsized on the River Thames after hitting a submerged tree trunk during their first date in December 2015.
A challenge by the 31-year-old web developer against his conviction for manslaughter by gross negligence was rejected by the Court of Appeal on Thursday.
Speaking outside court after the ruling, Charlotte’s twin sister Katie Brown said: “We are relieved as a family that Shepherd’s appeal against his manslaughter conviction has been thrown out and justice has prevailed.
“My sister Charlie is not here with us today because of Shepherd’s negligence and reckless actions.
“He hasn’t once shown any remorse or respect to our family, or to the legal system, or to even Charlie.”
She told reporters gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London that the family will now campaign for a change in the laws governing waterways.
She said: “We hope we can now bring this heartbreaking chapter to a close and fight for a change in our waterways and waterways laws for Charlie’s legacy.”
Charlotte’s father, Graham Brown, said: “I think the right decision has been made and as a family we are very relieved that the appeal has not been upheld.”
Shepherd’s lawyers argued at a hearing last week that his conviction was unsafe because some of the evidence at his trial came from an interview during which he was not cautioned or offered a solicitor because of a “mistake” by police.
But, rejecting his appeal, Sir Brian Leveson said the admission of the interview in evidence “did not impact unfairly” on Shepherd’s trial.
Sir Brian said: “When granting leave (to appeal), the single judge made the point that the appellant should not be overoptimistic as to the outcome.
“That warning was prescient. The appeal against conviction is dismissed.”
Shepherd, originally from Exeter, went on the run ahead of his Old Bailey trial and was convicted in his absence in July 2018.
He was later extradited to the UK from Georgia after handing himself in to police in the capital Tbilisi in January.
Jurors at Shepherd’s trial heard that he and Ms Brown, from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, had been drinking champagne and went on a late-night jaunt in his boat past the Houses of Parliament.
Shepherd handed the controls to Ms Brown just before it struck the tree trunk and overturned, tipping both of them into the cold water.
He was plucked from the Thames alive, but Ms Brown was found unconscious and unresponsive and died later in hospital.
Following his return from Georgia, Shepherd appeared at the Old Bailey in April and was sentenced to an additional six months for breaching bail.
The Court of Appeal quashed his bail conviction and sentence on Thursday, ruling that it was a “nulity” due to a paperwork error when his extradition was requested.
Sir Brian said the English court had no jurisdiction to deal with the offence, because his extradition was only requested in relation to Ms Brown’s manslaughter and a separate charge of wounding with intent, and not for the breach of bail.
However, the judge said Shepherd may still face further proceedings in relation to his “egregious breach” at later date.
Katie Brown said the family found it “difficult to accept” that he had avoided punishment for going on the run because of a technicality.
She added: “During the 10 months he spend on the run in Georgia, Shepherd caused our family further anguish and pain whilst he lived a normal life.
“Despite all sense and logic, he appears to have been able to abscond without penalty.
“What deterrent is this to other criminals not to do the same?”
Mr Brown said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has indicated that it will bring further proceedings against Shepherd for the bail breach.
He added: “It does seem bizarre to the layman that (Shepherd) has been able to abscond to Georgia without consequence.
“I think it is very important that that bit is looked at and that people should face consequences for not appearing at their trial.”
Shepherd was jailed for a further four years at Exeter Crown Court earlier this month after he admitted wounding with intent in relation to a drink-fuelled attack on a barman.
The court heard he struck former soldier David Beech with a vodka bottle on March 16 2018 after being asked to leave The White Hart Hotel in Newton Abbot, Devon.