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article imageBritish speedboat killer gives himself up to Georgia police

By Irakli METREVELI (AFP)     Jan 23, 2019 in World

A British man who killed his date in a speedboat crash and went on the run ahead of his trial has given himself up in the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia, police said Wednesday.

Jack Shepherd, 31, was convicted of manslaughter last year for the death of Charlotte Brown, a 24-year-old woman he took on a champagne-fuelled first date on his speedboat in the River Thames in 2015.

The boat flipped over after Shepherd handed Brown the controls and she was recovered unconscious.

Shepherd was rescued after being found clinging to the upturned hull.

"I confirm that Jack Shepherd handed himself to Georgian police today," interior ministry spokeswoman Sopho Mdinaradze told AFP.

Shepherd "will be detained and afterwards legal procedures will be launched into his extradition to the UK," she said.

He is being held in a police station in Georgia's capital Tbilisi and is accompanied by his lawyers, she added.

British police said in a statement that they had received information from the National Crime Agency (NCA) that Shepherd is in police custody in Georgia.

"His identity has yet to be officially confirmed," London's Metropolitan Police said. "However, if the man is confirmed as Shepherd, extradition proceedings will begin immediately."

Shepherd, a web designer, vanished before his trial last summer and was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence and sentenced to six years in prison in his absence.

An international warrant was issued for his arrest.

Georgia's Rustavi-2 television showed footage of a man it identified as Shepherd entering a police station and aired an exclusive interview with him on Wednesday evening.

The station said he had arrived from Istanbul last March and since lived in Tbilisi.

- 'Confident of innocence' -

In the interview, in which his voice was dubbed over in Georgian, Shepherd said he been involved in a "tragic" accident and had gone into hiding to avoid going to prison.

"I hope that the truth will be established, that my appeal will be granted and that everyone can move forward with their lives," he said

His Georgian lawyer Tariel Kupatadze told Rustavi-2 that his client was "confident that he will be able to prove his innocence and will be acquitted".

"His goal is to cooperate with the investigation and the judiciary and to provide the court with all the information into the case," the lawyer said.

The victim's father, Graham Brown, wrote on Facebook: "Just been informed that Jack Shepherd has been arrested in Georgia. Justice for Charlotte is close!"

The case has attracted intense interest in British media, with theories about where he could be, ranging from Thailand to Turkey.

Brown's family met British Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Tuesday to ask him to track down Shepherd.

"Charlotte's family are understandably heartbroken and distraught following this awful tragedy. I have taken a personal interest in this case and am determined to ensure Jack Shepherd faces justice," Javid said earlier.

"I told the family we will strain every sinew and explore every option to bring them the justice they deserve as soon as possible," he said.

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