Now police admit: We don’t know if speedboat fugitive has even lef t UK
POLICE admitted yesterday they ‘have no idea’ if fugitive speedboat killer Jack Shepherd is in the country or not – partly because not enough officers are looking for him.
Scotland Yard said there was no straightforward way of finding out whether an individual had left Britain without a date to narrow the search.
Even with a date, anyone using a fake or stolen passport could still be untraceable.
Shepherd, 31, was convicted of manslaughter after drunkenly showing off to his date Charlotte Brown, 24, as they sped along the Thames in his ageing and defective speedboat, which flipped over.
He called for rescuers to ‘help me’, not ‘help us’, and Miss Brown was
‘He needs to be brought to justice’
pulled unconscious from the cold waters and pronounced dead.
Shepherd fled before his Old Bailey trial and is on the run from a six-year prison sentence – yet has been granted leave to appeal against his conviction, and legal aid that has already approached £100,000.
Critics point out he has not served a single day in prison, and did not turn up in court over separate allegations he glassed a barman in the face.
The Daily Mail is offering a £25,000 reward for his capture, with the support of police and Miss Brown’s grieving family.
But a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police, who are under fire for failing to bring Shepherd to justice, said details of people’s coming and goings from the United Kingdom were not stored on a single searchable database available to police hunting fugitives.
The spokesman said: ‘We have no idea if he is in the country or not... we cannot be certain. If there were more officers on the case, we might be able to do something. If this was a counter-terrorism operation, we might be able to do something.
‘Normally it is relatively easy because we have a fairly good case of knowing when a person left and where from. But in this case, the time frame is a wide one of many months and that is harder.’ The Mail understands that the Home Office relies on airlines and other firms providing information to Border Force regarding passengers entering and leaving the UK.
This information is then shared with police and other law enforcement agencies.
Scotland Yard has said the Mail’s campaign to find Shepherd had generated new leads, but the recent activity by officers appears to be in response to media pressure.
Shepherd is believed to have fled last March, with his passport, shortly after the grievous bodily harm with intent incident in a pub in Moretonhampstead, Devon, where he grew up.
There has been speculation friends could be shielding him in Britain – or, more likely, that he has fled overseas. He took out loans totalling at least £50,000 and has failed to pay back a penny.
Officers originally told Miss Brown’s father, civil servant Graham Brown, from Sidcup, south London, of claims that Shepherd had flown to the former Soviet republic of Georgia – although that could have been a red herring circulated by his friends.
Mr Brown said: ‘The police have assured me they are doing all they can. But I am worried the system simply isn’t in place to look for fugitives – once they are abroad, we do not have expert teams dedicated to finding them.
‘And Jack Shepherd needs to be brought to justice.’
Victim: Charlotte Brown died when the speedboat flipped in the Thames
On the run: Jack Shepherd