- Jack Shepherd sentenced to 6 years for manslaughter
- Charlie Brown was flung into the river Thames during online date
- International manhunt launched for Shepherd who remains on the run
- Haunting video shows web designer discuss fatal speedboat crash
A web designer responsible for killing his date in a speedboat crash on the River Thames has been sentenced to six years imprisonment – though he remains on the run and an international manhunt has been launched to find him.
Jack Shepherd, 30, had been trying to impress 24-year-old Charlotte Brown after meeting her on dating website OkCupid, the Old Bailey heard.
But their champagne-fuelled first date ended in tragedy when his boat capsized on the River Thames in central London when it hit a submerged log after he encouraged her to take the wheel in December 2015.
Shepherd, originally from Exeter, was convicted in his absence of the manslaughter of Ms Brown by gross negligence.
Shepherd’s barrister Stephen Vullo QC said his client’s failure to attend court was due to his “cowardice”.
“It’s cowardice. It is not some clever trick to avoid justice,” he said.
“He could not have faced the Brown family from the dock and it’s cowardice he could not do so.”
Vullo said Shepherd got married to a childhood friend very shortly after the speedboat crash and now has a two-year-old child.
However, the relationship broke down and Shepherd has struggled to gain work because of his drinking and links to the case.
Brown’s family had pleaded with him to attend court to face sentence on Friday.
Her sister, Katie Brown, said in a statement on behalf of the family: “The immense pain and anguish we feel will never pass and our grief will last a lifetime.”
She added: “We now appeal to Jack Shepherd wherever he is in the world to return and assume the responsibility of his guilt and the devastation he caused by his actions that fateful night – we appeal to Jack Shepherd’s family and friends to appeal to him and urge him to face the consequences of his actions.”
The court had heard how Shepherd had bought the 14ft Fletcher Arrowflyte GTO from Gumtree to “pull women”.
In the months before Ms Brown’s death, Shepherd had entertained up to 10 women on the 1980s model, having invited them back to his houseboat in Hammersmith.
During that time, he had been caught speeding by marine police more than once and advised on the importance of wearing life jackets.
Reading an emotional victim impact statement in court, Ms Brown’s mother Roz Wickens said: “I want Jack Shepherd to know that when he’s enjoying himself with his family, I in fact am not enjoying myself and never will.
“The truth is I will be visiting Charlotte’s grave. Also, if it was a dreadful accident, as he has claimed, why hasn’t he explained what happened that night and at least sent his condolences.
“The fact is, if Charlotte had not met him she would still be alive today. The empty hole that has been left in my heart is huge and is agony.
“I will continue to feel pain, distress, emotion and anguish until I take my final breath.”
Police are now hunting Shepherd, who has a warrant out for his arrest, and working on leads to find his whereabouts.
Speaking outside court, Scotland Yard’s Detective Sergeant Christopher Davis said: “We have had indications but it would be wrong to speculate at this time, but we are open to the fact he may be in or out of the country.”