Thames speedboat death accused Jack Shepherd 'shouted help me', court hears

5 July 2018, 16:56

A man accused of killing a woman in a speedboat accident shouted out "help me, help me" from the water - but did not shout to say anyone else was in trouble, a witness has said.

Jack Shepherd, 30, from Hammersmith, west London, is on trial for the manslaughter of 23-year-old Charlotte Brown, who he had taken out on the boat for a date.

He told police he had bought the boat "to pull women" and that he had taken several girlfriends out on it.

On the night of the crash, both Shepherd and Ms Brown had both been drinking.

A jury at the Old Bailey has been told how Ms Brown was at the wheel and the boat was speeding when it collided with a log and tipped over near Wandsworth Bridge on the River Thames.

Shepherd was found clinging to the bow and was rescued from the water just before midnight on December 8 2015.

Ms Brown was later pulled out of the water but was "unresponsive", with her mouth full of water and red wine in her vomit, the court was told.

Steven Morrissey, whose balcony overlooks the bridge, told the jury he heard a voice calling out after the crash.

In a statement read to the court, he said: "I could see the silhouette of a boat upturned. The boat's nose was underwater and part of the boat was protruding out of the water.

"My attention was taken away from the boat when I heard screaming. I had the feeling it was a young man.

"He kept saying, 'help me, help me, somebody help me'. It was just 'help me' - not 'us', or 'her'.

"I could see some people on the bank and lights where people were shouting, 'tell us where you are, we can't see you'.

"He just kept repeating, 'help me, help me'."

In his statement, Mr Morrissey said he could see search lights and torches along the bank, and later heard a policeman say "they've got him".

He said he did not hear a female voice but he did see "something in the water".

"My first thought was it was a body," he said. "I shouted at the police I had seen something."

Shepherd and Ms Brown had been drinking wine at The Shard before taking a bottle of champagne onto the boat.

Neither was wearing a life jacket.

In a statement read to the court, the accused said the boat was going "full throttle" at the time of the crash.

RNLI helmsman Ian Owen described finding Shepherd in the water. He told the court that Shepherd did mention Ms Brown to him.

"He was anxious to stay with us to find the female. He was quite adamant in assisting us with searching," Mr Owen said.

PC Liam Winter told jurors that Shepherd was "confused" and seemed "quite intoxicated".

"His words were slurred noticeably. He said, 'is she all right? Have you found her?"'

Shepherd is on trial in his absence, with the judge warning jurors not to speculate about the reason nor to hold it against him. He denies manslaughter by gross negligence.