‘Give yourself up’: PM blasts ‘shocking case’ of speedboat killer Jack Shepherd

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The Prime Minister dramatically raised the stakes in the hunt for speedboat killer Jack Shepherd last night.

In an intervention that piles more pressure on the police, Theresa May described it as a ‘shocking case’.

The Prime Minister urged the 31-year-old fugitive to give himself up, and offered her sympathies to the family of Charlotte Brown, who died when Shepherd drunkenly flipped his speedboat on the Thames. He fled while on bail and was convicted of manslaughter in his absence.

Theresa May (pictured above at a press conference) described the incident as a ‘shocking case’

Theresa May (pictured above at a press conference) described the incident as a ‘shocking case’

The Mail – which is offering a £25,000 reward for information that brings Shepherd to justice – has discovered that police ignored a potentially vital tip-off four months ago, and that recent activity by officers appears to be in response to media pressure.

Last night, Scotland Yard said new clues in the search for the killer were being ‘actively investigated’.

The row over Shepherd has been growing since the turn of the year, amid fury that he was granted legal aid to fund an appeal, despite having absconded from justice.

Speaking about Shepherd for the first time yesterday, Mrs May said: ‘This is shocking case and my sympathies are absolutely with the family of Charlotte Brown. I think Jack Shepherd should give himself up and face justice.

Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Jack Shepherd

Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Jack Shepherd

‘The question of legal aid is one the Secretary of State for Justice has asked his officials to look into.’

The Mail has been told that police failed to respond to a tip-off naming Shepherd’s possible bolt-hole abroad.

A friend of the fugitive phoned Scotland Yard’s hotline offering a specific address in a foreign country.

The friend left a message on the police answering machine last September – but was never called back.

A source claimed: ‘They called the number and there was just an answering machine. They left a message explaining who they were and how they knew Shepherd and saying they had an actual address, which was overseas, that might be worth checking out.

The Prime Minister urged the 31-year-old fugitive to give himself up, and offered her sympathies to the family of Charlotte Brown (pictured)

The Prime Minister urged the 31-year-old fugitive to give himself up, and offered her sympathies to the family of Charlotte Brown (pictured)

‘They did not say what the address was in the message, and then waited for the police to call them back to get it. They are still waiting.’

Scotland Yard said the force was not going to give a ‘running commentary’ on the investigation, but a spokesman said: ‘All information received will be acted upon. We encourage anyone with information as to Shepherd’s whereabouts to call police.’

Police admitted that new leads had been generated by the Mail’s interest in the case. Only last week officers said there had been ‘no tangible trace’ of Shepherd, nearly a year after he went on the run, but the manhunt has been given a dramatic new lease of life by the Mail’s offer of a reward.

The Met spokesman said yesterday: ‘Recent media reporting has generated a number of lines of enquiry. These are being actively investigated to bring Shepherd to justice.’

Womaniser Shepherd killed Miss Brown, 24, on their first date when his boat overturned while he was showing off to her on the Thames in London in December 2015. He went on the run ahead of his July 2018 manslaughter trial which went ahead at the Old Bailey. He was sentenced to six years in prison in his absence.

In an affront to justice, Shepherd is thumbing his nose at the law and the public by taking taxpayers’ money in legal aid to stage an appeal.

Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of the speedboat owned by Web designer Jack Shepherd who was found guilty of killing his date, Charlotte Brown

Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of the speedboat owned by Web designer Jack Shepherd who was found guilty of killing his date, Charlotte Brown

He is also trying to escape justice after being charged with causing grevious bodily harm over the alleged glassing of a hotel barman in March last year.

On Wednesday night, three senior officers involved in the manhunt met Miss Brown’s grieving father Graham, who has been frustrated with the lack of progress.

Led by Detective Chief Inspector Mick Norman, they told him that ‘everything that can be done is being done’, it is understood.

Civil servant Mr Brown, of Sidcup, south London – who has vowed never to rest until his daughter’s killer is behind bars – said: ‘I’m prepared to give the police the time and space necessary to catch him.’

But the Mail has been told of other occasions when police were slow to respond to tip-offs about web designer Shepherd. One claimed it took two months for officers to respond to a call about his possible location in Devon, where he grew up.

A source said: ‘They called the police because there was a tent set up in a woodland garden of one of his friends. The tent had a duvet in and it looked as though someone was living in it.

‘It was in quite a remote location but close to the friend’s house where he could presumably get food and shelter. They reported it to the police in August last year. But it was not until October that officers came round to investigate.

‘It is a bit surprising that it took them two months. If Jack Shepherd had been there, he was long gone by then.’

But another local who lives close to Shepherd’s mother in Newton Abbot, Devon, claimed the police were working hard to catch him.

They said officers had been actively watching the mother’s address over Christmas in case her son visited her. Police said the National Crime Agency – Britain’s version of the FBI – was involved in the search and appealed to anyone helping Shepherd ‘through a misplaced sense of loyalty to do the right thing’ and turn him in.

Prosecutors failed to confiscate Shepherd’s passport when he was given unconditional bail, and he went on the run in March last year. Police believe he may be using bank accounts and phones they are unaware of. He took out loans worth nearly £50,000 before fleeing. At least ten applications to banks and specialist loan agencies were made in early 2016, shortly after the tragedy.

Last year, he had several county court judgments recorded against him for failing to make repayments.

Miss Brown’s family believe he was already planning to run away, with Mr Brown saying: ‘These £50,000 of loans he’s taken out show he didn’t take an off-the-cuff decision to abscond.’

 

 

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