Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd 'may contest extradition' to UK

24 January 2019, 07:24 | Updated: 24 January 2019, 13:01

British fugitive Jack Shepherd may contest efforts to have him extradited, his lawyer has told Sky News.

The 31-year-old surrendered at a police station in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Wednesday, six months after he was convicted of killing Charlotte Brown, 24, during a speedboat ride on the River Thames on their first date.

Ms Brown died after the speedboat overturned during the night out in December 2015 - and Shepherd was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and sentenced to six years in prison in his absence.

The Crown Prosecution Service has said it is drafting an extradition request to bring Shepherd back to the UK from Georgia, and the Metropolitan Police said extradition proceedings "will begin immediately" once his identity had been confirmed.

But according to lawyer Mariam Kublashvili, the web designer is considering fighting the extradition bid.

She told Sky News that he will meet with his legal team later on Thursday to decide what to do, ahead of an expected court appearance on Friday.

Another of his lawyers, Tariel Kakabadze, said Shepherd believed he was innocent and that it was wrong to criticise someone for "trying to protect himself".

Shepherd vanished ahead of his trial at the Old Bailey last July - sparking an international manhunt.

Mr Kakabadze said: "Many people have opinions which are not based on facts. Every person who is blamed of a crime has the right to efficient and good legal help.

"Criticising somebody for protecting himself is not right. He believes that he is innocent.

"Judges should be left to make objective decisions. Judges are the only people who should make the final decision about the case."

Earlier, Mr Kakabadze said it could be "some time" before Shepherd, from Exeter, returns to the UK, but said he may go before a court in Tbilisi as early as Thursday or Friday.

"Extradition doesn't happen in one or two days," he said.

"All the documents will need to be translated, many things will need to be made ready. Depending on what evidence they show us, it might be very soon or it might be several months."

Sky's crime correspondent Martin Brunt, who is in Tbilisi, said it would probably take weeks for Shepherd to be extradited - even if he agreed to it.

"If the paperwork is not in the right wording, if there's any issue, then that could be an escape route for him," he said.

"Under Georgian law, extradition can be granted if they've been sentenced for at least four months."

Shepherd has been staying in Bagebi on the outskirts of the capital, where he has been renting a flat in a developing residential area.

Ms Kublashvili said he had been "living like a tourist", travelling around and enjoying the country after friends told him it was a great place to visit.

He had not been living under a false name and only decided to hand himself in after reports earlier this week that placed him in Tbilisi made the news there.

Shepherd gave himself up at a police station in Kostava Street, but has since been moved to a central station closer to the city court.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Prime Minister Theresa May are among the UK government figures to have commented on the case, with the former saying it is "vital Charlotte Brown's family see justice done".

The family had led calls for Shepherd to hand himself in, although he has told a local Georgian TV station that he is determined to clear his name over the "tragic accident".

He appeared to smile to for the cameras as he walked into the police station on Wednesday - flanked by lawyers and sporting a heavy beard.

Ms Brown's father, Graham, told Sky News: "He comes across as crass and arrogant with a disregard for the rules and doing the right thing.

"He still has not accepted that he is responsible for the death of my daughter."

Ms Brown, from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, was recovered from the water unconscious and Shepherd was rescued after being found clinging to the upturned hull.

Shepherd's UK lawyer Richard Egan had refused to reveal where he was during his disappearance and helped him appeal against his conviction while he was on the run.

James Brokenshire, the family's local MP, told Sky News: "The family needs to see justice done, because that has been denied to them for such a long time.

"It has been extraordinarily hard on them, losing your daughter, losing your sister, and then have the person responsible run away from justice.

"While he has finally done a positive thing and been to the authorities in Georgia, let's see some remorse and sense of responsibility for his actions, and that he is able to co-operate and support the process to see his return to the UK."