THE family of a 24-year-old who died during a speedboat crash had been left “shocked” that her fugitive killer has been given permission to challenge his conviction.

Charlotte Brown, from Clacton, died during her first date with web designer Jack Shepherd, 31, when his boat crashed in the River Thames in December 2015.

He was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence in his absence in July and was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.

Shepherd has now been given permission to challenge his conviction by a judge at the Court of Appeal.

According to reports he has received nearly £100,000 in legal aid, despite being on the run.

speedboat killer Jack Shepherdspeedboat killer Jack Shepherd

Charlotte’s mum Roz Wickens, who works for Tendring Council, said: “Understandably, we’re totally shocked that the appeal is going to be heard.

“There’s nothing the family can do about it. We’ve just got to sit and wait for another court hearing. I don’t know what the procedure will be - we haven’t bene told anything.

“How a man not even in the country, convicted of manslaughter, can get legal aid beggars belief.

“To say it has been immensely difficult is an understatement.

“There’s no moving on for me and there never will be.

“Charlotte died on December 9 and even though it is painful every second of every day, it is hard around that time of year, especially as everyone else it putting up their Christmas tree with lights twinkling in the window. There’s none of that for us.

“As a mum, there’s not a lot I can do other than sit back and try to cope the best I can.

“We are grateful to everyone who has supported us.”

Charlotte’s father Graham Brown said the fugitive killer is “making a mockery of justice” by going on the run.

Tragic - Charlotte Brown, 24, died following a boat crash on the River Thames on December 8, 2015Tragic - Charlotte Brown, 24, died following a boat crash on the River Thames on December 8, 2015

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mr Brown said: “It’s very important that Shepherd is caught, not just for my family, but for the wider public to have faith in the legal system.

“This fugitive is making a mockery of justice, being on the run while receiving tens of thousands of pounds of legal aid money to launch an appeal.The family are keen that he comes back and serves his sentence, so that we can try to move on, and indeed so he can.”

The paper has offered a £25,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

He met Charlotte on website OkCupid and the pair went for their first date on December 8, 2015.

He lavished Charlotte with a £150 meal at Oblix in the Shard, where they drank two bottles of wine.

The couple took a taxi back to Shepherd’s home, a houseboat in Hammersmith, where they took champagne aboard the speedboat for a trip past the Houses of Parliament.

Shepherd’s trial at the Old Baily heard he encouraged Charlotte to drive his speedboat even though she had no experience.

The speeding boat hit a submerged log and they were both thrown into the water, following which Charlotte died.

They were not wearing life jackets.

Anyone who knows Shepherd’s whereabouts should call police on 020 8721 4005 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.