London

Thames speedboat death: Accused absent from trial

Charlotte Sophie Brown Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Charlotte Brown died in December 2015 when Jack Shepherd took her on a date on his speedboat

A man accused of killing his date in a speedboat crash on the Thames has "chosen" not to give evidence in his defence, a court has heard.

Jack Shepherd, 30, is being tried in his absence over the death of 23-year-old Charlotte Brown, who was thrown overboard in December 2015.

The boat was said to have a series of defects and neither of the occupants wore life jackets.

Mr Shepherd, of Paddington, denies manslaughter by gross negligence.

The jury previously heard that Mr Shepherd did not point out the life jackets to Ms Brown and "did not even ask if she could swim" before the fatal accident.

Mr Shepherd, originally from Exeter, was found by rescuers clinging to the upturned boat near Wandsworth Bridge while Ms Brown was pulled from the water.

Police were called to reports of someone in distress near Wandsworth Bridge at about 23:45 on 8 December 2015. Ms Brown, 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 PA
Image caption Web designer Mr Shepherd bought the red 14ft Fletcher Arrowflyte GTO from Gumtree to "pull women", the court has heard

In his closing speech, prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC told jurors: "Was this not, on everything you have heard, sheer madness?"

Mr Shepherd was not an "evil person" but took a "series of deliberate decisions along the way", which resulted in him and Ms Brown being thrown into the river, the lawyer said.

All the evidence the jury has heard against the accused so far remains "uncontradicted", he added because Mr Shepherd "has chosen not to go into that witness box and give some support evidentially to his not guilty plea".

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