Jack Shepherd: Can a fugitive remain on the run forever?

| Author: Tony Imossi (Secretariat) | Filed under: General News
Jack Shepherd: Can a fugitive remain on the run forever?

Three days before Jack Shepherd was due to stand trial for manslaughter by gross negligence, police found he had disappeared. He was convicted in his absence of killing Charlotte Brown in a drunken speedboat crash and has spent the last six months on the run. Can a fugitive really evade the law forever?

Shepherd had been trying to impress Ms Brown when he let her drive his defective boat along the River Thames on their first date in 2015.

It was a drastic error of judgement which ended with the speeding vessel capsizing, throwing the pair into the water, where the 24-year-old drowned.

Rather than face the consequences, the 30-year-old web developer skipped bail before his court appearance and fled, sparking a manhunt that Ms Brown's family described as "prolonging the agony for everyone".

He was sentenced regardless to six years in prison, not a day of which he has served, and his whereabouts remain a mystery.

But should police prioritise his capture above the two dozen hardened criminals on its most wanted list - and where do officers even start when a suspect goes on the run?

"The first thing you do is put out an All Ports Warning," said Nick Biddis, a retired detective superintendent who led Kent Police's capture of Kenneth Noye, one of Britain's most infamous fugitives.

The warning, issued by police, would provide all international ports in the UK with a description of the suspect and advice that they should not be allowed to leave the country.

"If he tried to get out through one of the established ports using his ID, he'd get picked up," Mr Biddis said.
This, however, can be circumvented using smaller ports or forged documents.

And while it is not known if Shepherd has left the country, recent cases have demonstrated the ease with which criminals can slip over borders.

Shane O'Brien, who was wanted over the murder of Josh Hanson in 2015, left the country on a private flight from Biggin Hill Airport.

He was arrested by Czech police in February 2017 while using fake Italian documents and released before officers discovered his true identity. He remains at large.

Peter Bleksley, a retired Met Police detective and star of Channel 4's Hunted - which pits a team of professional investigators against contestants - said forged documents were no longer the preserve of well-connected underworld figures, thanks to illicit marketplaces on the dark web.

Tech-savvy Shepherd was "going to know his way around the dark web better than your average Joe," he said.
A fugitive's "family and known associations" would be the next port of call.

"You rattle the cages of those that are near and dear to him," said Mr Bleksley. "Search their homes, check their devices. Is each and every number allocated to a person or is there a phone call received from an unknown number?"

In some cases, officers would be deployed to monitor their movements.

"But this is all manpower intensive," he said. "I have my concerns about just how many officers will be actively working on [Shepherd's] case."

Other tactics include utilising a network of cameras, known as the automatic number plate recognition system, to track a suspect's car. An application to the Home Office for authority to trace known phone numbers, email addresses and social media accounts, could also be sought.

"You look at any phones he has used. Who has he called and emailed? Has he laid his hands on a burner [disposable] phone?" asked Mr Bleksley.

Bank accounts can be monitored or frozen.

In Shepherd's case, the Met said he had not accessed any bank or line of communication that they knew of.

Source:  BBC

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