This rather tragic story offers much insight into modern dating:
Shepherd met Charlotte – or Charli, as she was known – for the first time on a December night in 2015. Before that, they’d got to know each other online through the dating website OkCupid.
The 28-year-old web designer took his 24-year-old date to the Oblix restaurant on the 32nd floor of London’s Shard – an unmissable skyscraper with stunning views across the capital.
They ordered two bottles of wine and flatbread. When the £150 bill came, he paid.
Some folk may get the impression this Shepherd chap is a smooth, master seducer but in reality he seems a little desperate. Only an idiot would take someone they’ve never met to one of London’s swankiest restaurants and cough up £150; he’s trying to get money to do what his personality can’t. A first date should be a brief affair somewhere cheap, relatively quiet, and brightly lit offering both parties an early escape if necessary. And any woman being wined and dined in The Shard to the tune of £150 on the first date ought to know she’s being paid for something.
They then went back to his houseboat, 10 miles away in Hammersmith, west London, by taxi, where they drank more alcohol.
This doesn’t sound very sensible either; I can only assume she was looking for a one-night stand, or a fling at the most. That being the case, his taking her to The Shard was rather unnecessary.
During the evening, Shepherd told Charlotte he had a speedboat.
Later, in a police interview, he admitted: “I think I was probably, you know, wanting to sleep with her basically, and so that was probably what I wanted to do and she wanted to go in the boat so I’ve gone ‘OK’.”
A genuine alpha-male, having got a girl back to his houseboat and begun plying her with alcohol, will be mentioning the bedroom, not speedboats. Either he was misreading signals, or dinner at The Shard didn’t do enough to impress her.
The pair headed out on his 1980s, red, 14ft Fletcher Arrowflyte GTO which he’d bought from Gumtree. The court heard the boat was badly maintained.
Witnesses for the prosecution, who examined it after the accident, said it had a number of pre-existing defects, including “poor and sloppy steering” and a “partially opaque” windscreen.
At this point you have to ask what the hell this girl was doing climbing into a speedboat – in any condition – at night with a man she’d just met. Unsurprisingly:
On the night of the accident, Shepherd sped along the Thames towards the Houses of Parliament at 30 knots – well above the 12 knot limit for that part of the river.
It was cold and dark. He’d taken champagne on board, and according to his account, he let Charlotte take over the steering on their way back for a “thrill”.
Prosecutor Aftab Jafferjee QC described that decision as “sheer madness”.
Not long after Charlotte took the controls the boat crashed and capsized by Plantation Wharf.
It’s thought it hit a floating piece of timber or tree.
With tragic results:
Steven Morrissey, who lives in a flat close to Wandsworth Bridge, said in a witness statement he heard Shepherd calling out.
“He just kept saying, ‘Help me, help me, somebody help me.’ It was just ‘help me’ – not ‘us’, or ‘her’.”
Is anyone surprised by that? Maybe Ted Kennedy was his role model?
Shepherd was found clinging to the upturned hull of the boat near the bridge at about 23:40. Charlotte was found in the water close by just before midnight.
She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead, with a post-mortem examination later finding she had died from cold water immersion.
When emergency crews spoke to Shepherd after he was pulled from the water they said he appeared extremely confused and drunk. Jurors heard how he asked them where Charlotte was, but he couldn’t remember her name.
Charlotte’s mother, Roz Wickens, said: “There are no words in the universe to describe how wonderful Charlotte was… the best daughter ever, my best friend. We’ll never get over losing her.
Rather than rant about toxic masculinity and virtue-signal with MeToo hashtags, wouldn’t it be good if feminists spent those efforts teaching young women basic common sense, especially in the age of dating apps and a hookup culture? There was a time when young women knew how to take things slowly and avoid idiots like this Shepherd guy, but those skills seem to have gotten lost in the great drive towards equality, modernity, and the emasculation of men. And who were the architects of that, again?