Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd will remain in custody in Georgia for three months ahead of extradition proceedings after telling a court he was “suicidally depressed”.
The 31-year-old web designer, appearing at Tbilisi City Court on Friday, said the decision to go on a speedboat date on the River Thames in London with Charlotte Brown was his “greatest regret”.
Shepherd, who was convicted of killing the 24-year-old in his absence six months ago, intends to contest his extradition, the court heard.
Assisted by an interpreter as he sat in the dock, the court heard Shepherd, who arrived in Georgia in March last year, speak of his regret at missing his trial and the impact on Ms Brown’s family.
He said: “Not a single day passes when I don’t think about the loss of Charlotte’s life and the effect this has had on her family.
“Some time after the accident I felt suicidally depressed at what had happened.
“That’s why I’ve been unable to speak about it.”
One of his defence lawyers said Shepherd should not be extradited because he was warned in a phone call that his life might be in danger if he goes to a UK jail.
As he addressed the court, Shepherd, who has been working in Georgia, revealed he wished he had sat down with Ms Brown’s family and explained what had happened.
“I can see that not to have done so has caused them great pain and suffering,” he said.
“I’m very sorry for that and that’s why I handed myself in now just to draw to a close this horrible accident and all the terrible consequences.”
His lawyer, Tariel Kakabadze, said it was Shepherd’s decision to surrender to police in Georgia.
“He believes and we also believe this is the only legal way to fight for his rights and to prove that he is innocent,” he said.
Mr Kakabadze said Shepherd’s case was being looked at by the appeal court in the UK.
“He is sure that he has not committed any crime and we have a hope that final decisions will be in his favour,” he added.
The court also heard that Shepherd has alcohol dependency and wants to conduct the appeal against his conviction from Georgia.
He surrendered himself at a police station in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, on Wednesday. Wearing a long beard and a smile, he was flanked by lawyers and gave an interview proclaiming his innocence.
Ms Brown, from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, died after plunging into the icy waters of the Thames when Shepherd’s boat crashed during a Champagne-laden date in December 2015.
Shepherd, originally from Exeter, went on the run before his trial at the Old Bailey and jurors found him guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.
He was sentenced to six years in jail but remained at liberty.
A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said it was “doing everything it can to help make sure Jack Shepherd faces justice through the proper legal channels.”
“Extradition is a complex process and we are continuing to work with UK colleagues and the authorities in Georgia to progress it as quickly as possible,” she added.
Cabinet ministers were among those celebrating his surrender, and Theresa May’s official spokesman said the Prime Minister “welcomes the news that he is now in custody”.
He added: “The Government will now work alongside the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that extradition proceedings are expedited.”