Thames speedboat date death victim was ‘sure it’s safe’

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A woman who died after falling from a speedboat while on a first date told her friend “I’m sure it’s safe” shortly before she ended up in the River Thames, a court has heard.

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

The pair went on the boat after ordering two bottles of wine during an earlier dinner, a jury was told.

Mr Shepherd denies manslaughter.

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

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The Old Bailey heard the business development consultant sent a message to her sister and her friend before leaving the Shard where the pair had dinner, saying: “He’s taking me for a ride on his speedboat down the Thames. I’m sure it’s safe and he’s paying for my cab home.”.

More messages were exchanged as the night continued, with one saying they were on the boat with champagne, the jury heard.

Aftab Jafferjee QC, who opened the case for the prosecution, said this had not been the first occasion Mr Shepherd had taken women on his speedboat.

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Mr Shepherd told police in an interview the day after the incident that he got the speedboat with the intention of “trying to pull women”, the court heard.

Mr Shepherd, who had met Ms Brown on a dating website, allowed her to take the wheel of the speedboat knowing she was affected by alcohol, Mr Jafferjee said, adding: “It was cold, it was dark and it was, we submit, sheer madness.

“He did nothing to prevent her from speeding herself.”

His boat, the court heard, had a number of defects, with life jackets – although not a legal requirement – tucked away out of sight and their availability “not made known to Charlotte”.

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The trial continues.

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