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Georgia court rules to extradite British speedboat killer

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Tbilisi (AFP)

A Georgian court on Tuesday ruled to extradite a British man who killed his date in a speedboat crash in London and gave himself up in the ex-Soviet republic after fleeing his country.

Judge Arsen Kalatozishvili of Tbilisi City Court ruled that Jack Shepherd, 31, be sent to Britain after he "consented to the prosecutor's demand for his extradition," his lawyer Mariam Kublashvili told AFP.

Extradition procedures could take around "three weeks" and Shepherd "will appeal the extradition in a higher court if the British authorities fail to guarantee his safety," Kublashvili added.

"He is very much concerned about his safety" in Britain, the lawyer said, adding that he "wants to be placed in solitary confinement, to be monitored round-the-clock by CCTV cameras and to have access to journalists."

Shepherd was convicted of manslaughter last year for the death of Charlotte Brown, a 24-year-old woman he took on a champagne-fuelled first date on his speedboat in the River Thames in 2015.

The boat flipped over after Shepherd handed Brown the controls. She was recovered unconscious and later died in hospital.

Shepherd, a web designer, was rescued after being found clinging to the upturned hull.

- 'Suicidally depressed' -

He vanished before his trial last summer and was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence and sentenced to six years in prison in his absence.

An international warrant was issued for his arrest.

In January, he turned himself in to police in the Georgian capital Tbilisi and has since then remained in custody, awaiting an extradition trial.

His lawyers said earlier that Shepherd denies committing any crime and is confident that he will be acquitted.

Shepherd flew into Tbilisi last March from Istanbul and lived openly in a rented apartment in the city centre.

He spent his time in Georgia travelling across the country, frequently going to night clubs and attending social events.

In a Georgian television interview, Shepherd defended his decision to go into hiding, arguing that Brown's death was an accident and he was not to blame because she was driving the boat at the time.

In January, Shepherd told a Georgian judge that "after the accident I felt suicidally depressed at what had happened. That's why I've been unable to speak about it."

"I regret not taking part in the court proceedings," he said, referring to his trial in Britain.

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