Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd will return to the UK to begin serving his prison sentence after a judge ruled he must be extradited from Georgia.
A court in Tbilisi approved Britain’s extradition request on Tuesday after Shepherd said he wishes to take part in an appeal against his conviction over the death of 24-year-old Charlotte Brown.
Shepherd surrendered to authorities in Georgia six months after he was convicted of manslaughter in his absence at the Old Bailey.
The pair had been on a first date when Shepherd’s speedboat overturned, plunging Brown into the icy water of the River Thames in London.
The 31-year-old was sentenced to six years in jail after he absconded, but has been granted permission to appeal against the conviction.
Shepherd told the court that he made the “difficult decision” to not fight extradition “because I wish to participate in the appeal process, to fight for my freedom and to be reunited with those I love, my family, my son”, a video from the Daily Mirror showed.
No date has been set yet for the appeal hearing.
It was previously estimated Shepherd could return to the UK as early as this week.
He also faces a grievous bodily harm charge over an alleged assault in Devon on 16 March last year.
A warrant for his arrest was issued by magistrates in Newton Abbot after he failed to attend the court.
Have been in contact with the family of Charlotte Brown. They clearly welcome the news that Jack Shepherd is no longer contesting extradition in Georgia & can now return to the UK to face justice... 1/2 https://t.co/NchnHuvSx7— James Brokenshire (@JBrokenshire) March 26, 2019
Charlotte’s father Graham Brown said the extradition brings the family “a bit closer” to winning justice for Brown.
“When Shepherd does come back, hopefully he will start showing some remorse and accept responsibility for his part,” Brown told ITV News.
“We’re hoping that he won’t follow through with his appeal, which causes the family more anguish, but I guess that could be a forlorn hope.”
Shepherd’s legal team had mulled fighting extradition altogether and successfully delayed his return by convincing a judge to rule out a fast-tracked process.
Then the Crown Prosecution Service formally requested his extradition on 1 March.
Shepherd appeared at the Old Bailey on 26 January last year to deny manslaughter by gross negligence but jurors were made aware of his absence at the start of his trial in July.
In January, the web designer, originally from Exeter, handed himself in to authorities in Tbilisi, where he has been detained ever since.
The family of Brown, from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, have fought a battle for justice following her death in December 2015.
December 8 2015: After connecting on a dating site, Brown, a 24-year-old business development consultant from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, and Shepherd, a web designer originally from Exeter, meet in person for the first time. They have dinner at The Shard in central London, drinking two bottles of wine before returning to Shepherd’s Hammersmith houseboat.
With a bottle of champagne they set off for a late-night speedboat ride on the Thames towards Westminster. Police are called to reports of someone in distress near Wandsworth Bridge at around 11.45pm. Both are pulled from the water but Brown dies in hospital.
September 20 2017: Shepherd is charged with manslaughter by gross negligence.
October 18: He appears at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court and is released on unconditional bail.
January 26 2018: Shepherd pleads not guilty in person at the Old Bailey.
Mid-May: He tells his legal team he will not attend the trial.
June: A week before the trial is due to begin, the Crown Prosecution Service is told Shepherd will not be attending.
July 3: His trial opens, but the defendant is not in the dock. Judge Richard Marks QC tells jurors not to speculate about the reason for his absence or “hold his absence against him”.
July 9: In a possible legal first, the speedboat is taken to the Old Bailey for jurors to inspect.
July 10: Shepherd is found guilty in his absence. It emerges he has skipped bail, although he has been instructing his legal team by phone and has been receiving daily updates.
July 27: He is sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in his absence and an international manhunt is launched by police.
August 30: Still a fugitive from justice, Shepherd launches an appeal against his conviction.
August 31: It emerges that Shepherd is also wanted for an alleged serious assault on a man in Devon in March.
December 19: A judge at the Court of Appeal gives him leave to challenge the conviction.
January 7 2019: Downing Street expresses concern over the case following reports Shepherd has received £100,000 in legal aid despite being on the run.
January 22: Home Secretary Sajid Javid “underlines his personal commitment” to finding Shepherd during a meeting with Brown’s family.
January 23: Shepherd hands himself in to police in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, telling reporters Brown’s death was a “tragic accident”. The CPS and the Metropolitan Police launch efforts to have him extradited to the UK.
January 24: Shepherd tells a television station in Tbilisi that he fled the UK because he feared the “power within the prison system” held by Brown’s father Graham, who he claims is “a civil servant of some influence”.
January 25: Shepherd appears in court in Tbilisi and calls his speedboat trip his “greatest regret”.
January 29: His legal team successfully fights a fast-track extradition to the UK.
March 24: Shepherd’s lawyer Tariel Kakabadze says there is a “very big chance” he will not fight extradition to the UK and it is likely he will return within a week.
March 26: Shepherd agrees to extradition. Kakabadze says his client “wants to participate” in his appeal, adding: “He wants to give testimony and he wants to speak to the judges.”