The Tragic Truth Behind The Speedboat Killer, Jack Shepherd

Since he often met women on dating apps, Jack Shepherd of England really wanted to make a great first impression (via Daily Mail). He had purchased a boat through a classified website, and started frequently taking his first dates on boat rides to impress them. 

But unfortunately, the bright red Fletcher Arrowflyte GTO he had chosen was not in great shape: the 14-foot-long boat would later be found to have numerous defects. According to IMDb, a 2021 TV movie called "The Speedboat Killer: The Killing of Charlotte Brown" was released, detailing what really happened between Jack Shepherd and Charlotte Brown during a tragic date-night accident on the Thames River in 2015.

The two first connected through a dating app, according to Daily Mail. After hitting it off, 28-year-old Jack Shepherd and 24-year-old Charlotte Brown went on their first date. Over dinner and two bottles of wine at The Shard, they got to know each other (via Independent). Shepherd worked as a web designer, while Brown was a business development consultant. It was their first time meeting in person, but since the date went well, Shepherd invited Brown aboard his new watercraft.

Tragedy on the Thames River

That night in December 2015, Shepherd and Brown had both had a lot to drink, and brought another bottle of champagne along with them to drink as they steered the craft through the water (per Independent). 

The two rode along the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge, past the Houses of Parliament, and circled back once they reached Westminster Bridge (via BBC). Devon Live reports that just for a moment, Shepherd claims he asked Brown to take the reins. Just moments later, the speeding boat smashed into a tree or log hidden beneath the water. 

Per Mirror, the boat flipped over. Charlotte Brown did not survive the accident. She was pulled from the water in an unconscious state, and was not able to be revived. The cause of Brown's death was determined to be due to cold water immersion, per National World. Cold water immersion is a form of drowning — the victim is startled by the shock of the freezing water, and accidentally inhales water into their lungs instead of air.

Shepherd hastily marries

As for Shepherd, he was found in the Thames River, but escaped without severe injuries (via Devon Live). But the more police looked into the case, the more they realized that the fatal boat crash was not just accidental, but was actually the result of Shepherd's gross negligence with his defective boat. 

Jack Shepherd actually got married to another woman around the time that police were investigating him for Brown's death (per Wales Online). Apparently, one day Shepherd left the police station where he was being interviewed, and went right to the registry office to obtain a marriage license. About two months after the speedboat date that turned fatal, Shepherd got married, and began living in Abergavenny, Wales. The couple gave birth to a son by November 2016.

Shepherd couldn't avoid the investigation into Charlotte Brown's death. In September 2017, he was charged with manslaughter for his role in the speedboat case. During this ongoing legal case, Shepherd got into a physical altercation with an ex-soldier at a hotel in Devon, England (via Daily Mail). He hit the bartender in the head with a vodka bottle, injuring him.

Fleeing the country -- just as the trial begins

Independent reports that Shepherd appeared in court in October 2017, but he was allowed to leave jail on bond. A few months later, in January 2018, he appeared at Old Bailey, London's criminal court, where he pleaded not guilty in the case of Charlotte Brown's death.

Then the case took a surprising turn. In May 2018, Shepherd spoke with his legal counsel. He informed the legal team that he would not be going to any more trials related to Charlotte Brown's death — and he fled the country. His lawyers relayed the message to the Crown Prosecution Service in June 2018, just seven days before Shepherd's case was supposed to be heard. The trial began without Shepherd.

Per Mirror, he fled to the country of Georgia, and by his own account, had a pleasant time during his stay, enjoying the food and exploring the Georgian mountains. National World reports that for half a year, Shepherd laid low, working a freelance role as a web developer.

Jurors debate Shepherd's case

The whole time Shepherd was in Georgia, the courts were examining his case without him, Independent reports. Spanning just a few weeks in July 2018, jurors were told the details of the "speedboat killer" case, and police even brought the actual defective speedboat to the jury so they could see it for themselves. Shepherd contacted his legal team over the phone in July, giving them instructions on how to proceed. He was still sentenced to six years in jail. 

Mirror reports that this whole time, police were looking for him, to hold him accountable for avoiding his own trial. From May 2018 to January 2019, he escaped prosecution. In the beginning of 2019, police began investigating how Shepherd had seemingly been given about £100,000 ($121,000) in legal aid, even as he was a fugitive of the law.

Since police were still trying to hunt down Shepherd, The Sun offered a large sum of money to anyone who found him. Media outlets began to report on Shepherd, revealing that he was in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital (via National World). He realized he had been found out, and finally turned himself in to Georgian police officials on January 23, 2019.

Jack Shepherd's prison sentence

As BBC reports, Shepherd was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence, accompanied by a six-year jail sentence. His time on the run caught up with him when six more months were added to his prison sentence for fleeing the country (via Daily Mail). He was then given an additional four years in prison when he admitted to hitting the Devon bartender on the head with a glass bottle. Shepherd began his sentence in Wandsworth jail of London, but was transferred to another prison when other inmates began picking on him and spitting at him.

Today, Shepherd is 33 years old, and has been recently relocated to another new prison, HMP Franklin. The category A prison is another of the high-security facilities Shepherd has been in since 2019 (he has been repeatedly moved around after being bullied by the other prisoners).

Charlotte Brown's family spoke out in a 2021 documentary, saying that they had new evidence from an eye witness that could implicate Shepherd further — her family strongly believes she was thrown from the boat, and allege that Shepherd staged the scene (per Daily Mail). 

Shepherd has called Charlotte Brown's death his "greatest regret," and said that he thinks about Brown and her family every day (via The Sun). Per BBC, Brown's family has said that Shepherd's prison sentence is a step toward finding justice for her death.