Manslaughter probe into death of woman in speedboat tragedy on the Thames

Rashid Razaq
Tragic: Charlotte Brown drowned on a speedboat date: PA

The family of a young woman who drowned on a speedboat date on the Thames today said they were “still looking for answers” as police launched a manslaughter investigation into her death.

Charlotte Brown, 24, was thrown into the water near Wandsworth Bridge after going for a late-night river cruise with a 29-year-old man she met through an online dating app.

Ms Brown was pulled unconscious from the river by lifeboat crews and later pronounced dead in hospital while the man survived.

At the time of incident on December 9, 2015 police said the investigation was being treated as non-suspicious.

However the Crown Prosecution Service sent the case back to the Metropolitan Police saying that there could be a potential manslaughter offence. The Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command unit is now investigating.

Scene: Police retrieve the boat from the water (Alex Lentati)

Ms Brown’s family said they have been “disappointed” by the delays and feel stuck in limbo as an inquest into her death has not been able to take place.

Her mother, Roz Wickens, told the Standard: “There are so many questions that need to be answered. We will never get over Charlie’s death. I’d give anything to change that day. She was only 24 and had her whole life ahead of her. How different things could have been if she had been wearing a life jacket.”

Mrs Wickens, 52, from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, has launched a campaign calling for a change in the law to make wearing life jackets mandatory on all vessels not just commercial boats.

The retired London Ambulance Service medic and her family have raised thousands of pounds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in Ms Brown’s memory. Her father Graham Brown is planning on running this year’s London Marathon for the charity.

Mrs Wickens, is due to become an RNLI ambassador, and has also met with her local MP Douglas Carswell to call for tougher legislation on alcohol consumption on private boats.

She said: “300 people a year die on the water in the UK each year, but so little is known about the dangers. We need to educate people. If I can stop one family from going through what we have then it will be worth it.

A Met police spokesman said: “The police investigation into the death of Charlotte Brown remains ongoing and we continue to liaise with Charlotte’s family as to developments.

“Following the submission of a file to the Crown Prosecution Service advice was provided and detectives are now investigating offences including manslaughter.”

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