Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd (pictured) could be anywhere in the world after officials failed to confiscate his passport, police admitted last night
Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd could be anywhere in the world after officials failed to confiscate his passport, police admitted last night.
Scotland Yard said officers had no idea where the fugitive was hiding – but feared he had fled abroad.
Shepherd is on the run from a six-year prison sentence for drunkenly killing his date Charlotte Brown, 24, while showing off in his ageing speedboat.
Now the reckless womaniser is mocking the law by mounting an appeal against his conviction – despite absconding from justice. To add insult to injury, he is using taxpayers’ money to fund his lawyers through legal aid.
Last night, police said they feared the 31-year-old was being shielded by friends – and that he might have access to phones and bank accounts they did not know about. And despite Shepherd being in touch with his London solicitors, detectives said there was ‘no tangible trace’ of him.
The Metropolitan Police insisted the National Crime Agency was working to track him down, but revealed his passport was not seized before he disappeared. A CPS spokesman could not explain yesterday why prosecutors or police had not applied to confiscate his documents while he was awaiting trial.
Shepherd was sentenced in his absence after being found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence by an Old Bailey jury last July.
Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of the speedboat owned by Web designer Shepherd who has been found guilty of killing his date, Charlotte Brown
He has now been granted the right to appeal both conviction and sentence because case law has established that fugitives can still appeal.
Amid growing fury at the injustice to his victim and her grieving family, the Daily Mail is offering a £25,000 reward to flush him out of his hiding place.
Shepherd’s lawyers have issued a robust defence of their role representing a man on the run from justice, and insisted they had no idea where he was hiding. Among yesterday’s developments:
A senior detective appealed to the fugitive’s friends and associates to ‘do the right thing’;
Shepherd, originally from Exeter, killed Miss Brown (pictured) after flipping his cheap speedboat on the Thames
Prosecutors confirmed Shepherd may escape prosecution for grievous bodily harm after glassing a stranger in a Devon pub;
Outrage continued to grow over his legal aid, with a former Solicitor General branding it ‘beyond cynical’;
The killer’s lawyers said it would be ‘negligent’ to dump Shepherd as a client just because he had absconded.
Shepherd, originally from Exeter, killed Miss Brown after flipping his cheap speedboat on the Thames. He had bought it online a few months earlier to ‘pull women’.
He has not served a single day in prison after disappearing three months ahead of his trial. The self-confessed coward told his lawyers, Tuckers Solicitors, he did not have the guts to face the grieving family of his victim.
Despite laughing at the law, he sparked fury by directing them to appeal against both his conviction and sentence. Shepherd was granted the right to appeal on the basis of European case law, which states fleeing justice is no bar to an appeal.
Incredibly, the legal aid authorities agreed to fund the move with public money. So far Shepherd has been awarded £93,292 in legal aid, of which £50,642 went to his solicitors. Tuckers said that, of this sum, it had received £27,000, with the rest going on VAT and payments to expert witnesses.
The solicitor who represented Shepherd, senior partner Richard Egan, has been described as ‘a real heavyweight’ by respected legal guide Chambers.
He has previously represented a client accused of links to the 9/11 terror attacks, as well as a mother who suffocated her three disabled children.
Last night Detective Chief Inspector Mick Norman, from the Met, said: ‘Shepherd is subject to an international arrest warrant. However since he failed to appear in court for his trial there has been no tangible trace of him.
The family of Miss Brown (left to right) father Graham Brown, sister Katie and mother Roz Wicken arriving arriving at the Old Bailey, London, for the manslaughter trial of Shepherd (pictured July 2018)
‘There have been a number of rumours that he is being harboured abroad by friends but we have no evidence this is the case. There has been no movement on his bank accounts or phone.
‘However this is only in respect of the accounts we are aware of. He may well be using the accounts of friends or associates to evade arrest and extradition.
‘The Met continues to work closely with the CPS and also the NCA to track, trace and arrest Shepherd.
‘We would also appeal to Mr Shepherd’s friends and associates who may be assisting him to do the right thing and share any information they have.’
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘Shepherd’s passport was not seized by the police or the court as he was on court bail and fully complying with bail conditions up to the time of the trial when he failed to appear.’
A CPS spokesman said it is not known why prosecutors or police did not apply to confiscate Shepherd’s passport at court or following his arrest.
Miss Brown’s devastated father Graham yesterday described the manhunt for her killer as a ‘continuation of the torture.’ He said: ‘It doesn’t give you a lot of faith in the legal system, it’s disgraceful really. The fact that he can do this and that it’s supported by legal aid is mind-boggling, the audacity of it all.
‘How can somebody who is a fugitive from justice launch an appeal? It’s just outrageous.’
Separately, Shepherd is highly likely to escape prosecution for glassing a drinker in a Devon pub in March. He failed to appear before magistrates in Newton Abbot in June and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. A CPS spokesman said the pub attack case was ‘finalised’ in September, meaning he is unlikely to face prosecution.
Shepherd’s family were in hiding yesterday as fury grew over his continued freedom and legal antics.
Tuckers Solicitors said: ‘We are criminal defence solicitors and have an important role in the criminal justice system to represent those accused of criminal offences.
‘That professionalism and duty does not go away because of the perceived morally dubious actions of any particular client. The court was fully aware that we would act in his absence.
‘We would be negligent and in breach of our professional duties were we not to proceed because the client had absconded.’ Tuckers said it had done ‘95 per cent’ of the legal aid work by the time Shepherd absconded.