London

Speedboat death accused 'did not point out' life jackets

Jack Shepherd Image copyright PA
Image caption Jack Shepherd let Charlotte Brown drive his speedboat for a "thrill", the Old Bailey heard

A man accused of killing a young woman when his speedboat capsized did not tell her there were life jackets on board, a court heard.

Jack Shepherd, 30, of Paddington, is accused of Charlotte Brown's manslaughter after both fell from his speedboat on 8 December 2015.

He "did not even ask if she could swim," the Old Bailey was told.

Mr Shepherd, who is being tried in his absence, denies manslaughter by gross negligence.

Reading from the transcript of a police interview, Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC told the court the defendant admitted the boat had been going "full throttle" before the collision.

Police were called to reports of someone in distress near Wandsworth Bridge at about 23:45. Ms Brown, 24, from London, died later in hospital.

The jury heard the pair had met hours earlier online and had been for a dinner at The Shard before going to Mr Shepherd's houseboat.

They then allegedly took a bottle of champagne on board the web designer's speedboat for a ride towards Westminster and back.

After he gave her the wheel for a "thrill", the speeding vessel hit a submerged tree trunk and capsized.

Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Charlotte Brown did not know there were life jackets on board the speedboat before the crash

His boat also had a number of defects, with life jackets - although not a legal requirement - tucked away out of sight.

He said: "Neither of us were wearing life jackets, although there were two between the seats.

"She would not have known they were there and I did not point them out. I did not even ask if she could swim."

The defendant had previously been stopped twice by police on the river who "impressed upon him the importance of making sure life jackets were worn by those on board", the court was told earlier.

On 22 August 2015, he had taken a girlfriend to the Shard by boat but she felt "uncomfortable" and left him at the restaurant to take a taxi home.

The trial continues.

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