Speedboat killer: Charlotte Brown was ‘best friend you could have asked for’

Lottie Hare (L) with her best friend Charli Brown (R) Image copyright Charlotte Hare
Image caption Lottie says losing her best friend Charli (right) is something she will never get over

The best friend of a woman killed in a speedboat crash says the man convicted over her death needs to finally take responsibility.

Jack Shepherd has been sentenced to six years for the manslaughter of Charlotte Brown – they had gone out for a first date in 2015 after meeting online.

Charlotte Hare says she feels emotional after 31-year-old Shepherd handed himself in to police in Georgia.

He’s been on the run for six months after being convicted last July.

“I’m really pleased he’s decided to make one right decision in handing himself in – given all the pressure from the media and police,” Charlotte, who’s known as Lottie, told Radio 1 Newsbeat.

But the 27-year-old teacher admits the huge focus on Shepherd has made it hard to really pay attention to her best friend, who she misses every day.

“Charli was the biggest personality in the room, she drew attention, she was so funny, so clever and so quick and you wanted to be in her presence.”

Lottie remembers clearly the first time she met Charli.

“It was on her 19th birthday, we all lived in the same halls at university and a mutual friend invited me out for a mime-themed night out.

“So we got all dressed up with face paint and ever since we have been inseparable.”

Image copyright Charlotte Hare
Image caption The first time Lottie and Charli met was on a university night out

The crash

Charli, 24, was pulled from the River Thames unconscious and unresponsive after both she and Jack Shepherd were thrown from his boat in December 2015.

A post-mortem examination found she died from cold water immersion.

The couple had been on their first date. After going out for food and drinks they took Shepherd’s speedboat out onto the Thames, sometimes doing more than twice the speed limit.

According to his account, he let Charlotte take over the steering. The boat crashed and capsized not long after – it’s thought it hit a floating piece of wood or a tree.

Jack Shepherd, who was found clinging to the boat’s hull, maintains his innocence and says he will be appealing against his manslaughter conviction.

It is now up to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to make an extradition request to the Georgian authorities.

Lottie says there are so many memories she and Charlotte had together, but one that stands out is a holiday to a water park in Gran Canaria.

“There was a photographer who was getting action shots of people going down slides, and when we went to collect our photo the man apologised and said ‘I’m so sorry’.

“When we saw our faces in it, it was so bad we bought it twice!

“I’ve still got it – it’s in my office in school.”

Image copyright Charlotte Hare
Image caption Lottie says this picture captured one of the most memorable days she shared with Charli

Lottie and Charli shared everything.

“I thought she was grown up when she moved away and got a cool job in London.

“I was back at my parents putting myself through university again for my teaching training so I lived through her at the weekends.

“We spent so much time together and had so much fun.”

Both were dating online and shared stories with one another.

Lottie says she hadn’t heard of the man who Charli would go on to have a fateful evening with in December 2015.

She heard about it after the crash and will never forget the life-changing moment when news came through of Charli’s death.

Image copyright Charlotte Hare
Image caption Lottie says despite the distance between them, she and Charli would spend many weekends together

“I was shattered, it was completely heartbreaking.”

Lottie pauses and says she finds it so hard to get her head around: “Life now without her, well there is definitely a noticeable hole in all us university girls’ life.”

Lottie says she thinks about her best mate all the time, and what a great person she had been.

“Her nickname was Graham at University – as in Graham from the Jeremy Kyle show – the conflict resolution guy!

“She wouldn’t go to bed or let anything rest until any little issue that happened throughout the night, whether it be between friends or a boyfriend, she wouldn’t let it rest until we’d talked it through and it was all settled.

“Not having her around if I’ve had a rough day at work, not being able to talk it through with her… I really notice it.”

Image copyright Charlotte Hare
Image caption Lottie says she’ll never quite get over the death of her best friend Charli

For Lottie, Shepherd handing himself in is a step closer for Charli’s family and friends in getting the closure they deserve – although she admits it’s difficult.

“Charli’s death was a huge shock and something that I don’t think we will ever quite get over.

“She was beautiful, intelligent, with a fiercely wicked sense of humour, and genuinely the best friend you could ask for.”

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