Jack Shepherd is weak, arrogant, and guilty of cowardice in its most extreme form.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of him, he was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter in July 2018.

The decrepit boat he was speeding in capsized on the Thames, causing passenger Charlotte Brown, from Clacton, to drown.

He’s a coward because he disappeared prior to the jury finding him guilty, and was sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment in his absence.

He handed himself into custody in Georgia last week, and now awaits extradition.

There has been some public outcry over Shepherd’s planned appeal against his conviction. Some have queried how it was morally permissible for someone to appeal, whilst at the same time dodging the sentence that was quite rightly imposed.

READ MORE: Family 'shocked and relieved' after fugitive speedboat killer hands himself in

These are valid, and understandable concerns, not least from Charlotte Brown’s family who have continued to be traumatised by Shepherd’s deplorable behaviour. However, there are very good reasons why this rule remains in place.

The right to representation before a court is a right guaranteed by convention rights.

One does not lose that right by virtue of their absence.

Basildon Standard: Loved - Charlotte Brown with mum Roz Wicken

  • Charlotte Brown and her mum

I have represented people at trial who didn’t attend their hearing, who have subsequently been found not guilty by the court.

Does the fact they were not there make them any less not guilty? I think not.

Let’s put it another way. The Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, Carl Bridgewater – they all had their convictions overturned following appeal.

READ MORE: Charlotte’s family ask Home Secretary for justice

Had they disappeared and avoided their sentence, would they have been any less not guilty by virtue of their disappearance?

I am not saying Shepherd isn’t guilty of manslaughter.

But the appeals system operates as a system of checks and balances to the more junior Courts and to ensure that people are correctly convicted.

Basildon Standard:

  • Jack Shepherd in court in Georgia

Permission for appeal had to be applied for – there was no automatic right in Shepherd’s case.

If it is found something went awry at his trial, the Court of Appeal has the power to order a retrial.

I can see no reason why they wouldn’t.

READ MORE:Speedboat killer appears in court in Georgia after handing himself in

Neither is it right for anyone to vilify the lawyers representing Shepherd for merely doing their job.

Shepherd’s solicitor, Richard Egan, had to call police himself owing to threats he received in the form of a letter delivered to his office.

This didn’t just threaten him, but also his children and pets.

The letter stated the author knew where he lived. There’s no justification for this type of behaviour.

As solicitors we are required to act in the best interests of our client, against a strict code of conduct.

We cannot pick and choose whom we represent depending on the circumstances of the case.

The family lawyer cannot choose to not represent the violent and abusive ex partner in divorce proceedings.

I cannot choose to only represent people accused of shoplifting while refusing to ever represent a terrorist.

We have to embark upon such cases without "fear or favour".

So let’s leave our very experienced senior courts to get on with the job in hand.

I have every confidence, and so should you.

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