BY CALUM FRASER
Charlotte Brown’s last words to her family were: “Still alive. Waiting for the tide so we can take it out.”
They came in a text to her sister before she got on a boat with Jack Shepherd.
Less than two hours later her body was fished out of the River Thames. Paramedics did their best to revive the girl from Welling.
But the 24-year old was pronounced dead at St George’s Hospital at 1.55am on December 9, 2015.
Shepherd was found conscious, clinging to the upturned speed boat in which moments before, the pair had been hurtling up the Thames.
Shepherd has been missing since March this year, when he was last seen in Devon. He was found guilty of manslaughter in his absence on July 26 and sentenced to six years on Friday July 27.
Shepherd had bought the boat to “pull women” and he had taken at least five other girls on it before. None of them were offered a life jacket.
On Tuesday, December 8, 2015, Shepherd had met Charlotte, who preferred to be known as Charli, at a restaurant at the Shard.
They had already made contact on the OkCupid dating website, but this was their first physical meeting.
The pair downed two bottles of wine on their date, before they took a taxi to his houseboat near Hammersmith Bridge.
Charli had been messaging her sister Katie, keeping her up to date on her movements.
At 10.12pm she sent the message telling Katie, she was “still alive” and waiting for the high tide.
Shepherd knew a high tide would enable faster speeds.
The couple went out on the speedboat “Arrowflyte”.
Neither were wearing life jackets and Shepherd later told police there were two life jackets stored in the boat, but these were out of view.
He also admitted that he did not tell Charli about the life jackets or ask her if she could swim.
They continued drinking booze on the speedboat as he drove from Hammersmith Bridge to Waterloo Bridge.
He later admitted to the police that he was traveling faster than the 12 knots limit for that stretch.
In a video the police found on Charli’s phone, she is heard shouting “you’re going so fast” as they hurtle past Westminster.
Shepherd then gave Charli control of the boat.
A witness later told police that at about 11pm he was standing on the pontoon on the river when his attention was drawn to the noise of a boat engine and the sound of shrieks and laughter.
He then saw a red “Fletcher” style boat driving erratically and at speed. He saw the boat continuing to make manoeuvres at speed before disappearing.
Another witness, who lives near Wandsworth Bridge, told police she was watching TV when she was disturbed by the noise made from a boat.
When she looked out she saw a poorly lit boat travelling along the Thames which she thought unusual given the time.
She watched it travel along the centre of the river before veering towards the mooring.
She believed the boat was heading for shore, as the engine did not sound right.
She witnessed it heading towards the mooring wall and then briefly lost sight before hearing a loud crash.
After a few seconds she heard a man shouting for help and called police.
At about 11.43pm during the journey the speedboat collided with a submerged or partially submerged object in the water, believed to be a tree trunk or piece of timber.
The boat capsized a few hundred yards from Wandsworth Bridge. Eyewitnesses said they heard Shepherd yelling for help.
When Shepherd was fished from the river he was suffering from shock and hypothermia.
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