Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd’s lawyer has denied “protecting a fugitive” despite helping him to appeal against his conviction while on the run.
Solicitor Richard Egan said he has “no idea” where his client is, but admitted he has been in contact with him.
He claimed he was “very sympathetic” to the family of Charlotte Brown, who was killed aged 24 after a crash during her first-date with Shepherd on the River Thames.
Her parents have accused Shepherd, who was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence in his absence, of making a mockery of justice by appealing against his conviction while on the run.
Mr Egan, who works for Tuckers Solicitors, said he understood their anger, but said he had a duty to perform his professional duties to the best of his ability.
“I do have some empathy for their position, I understand the appalling nature of what they’ve been through but my job as a professional and I have duties as a professional,” he told ITV News.
“I’m not protecting a fugitive, my job is to act as Mr Shepherd’s lawyer, as such I do have certain duties and responsibilities.”
Web designer Shepherd was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment after vanishing before his Old Bailey trial.
The court heard the 14ft Fletcher Arrowflyte GTO he bought from Gumtree to “pull women” flipped into the icy waters of the Thames after he handed Ms Brown the controls during a champagne-fuelled date in December 2015.
Scotland Yard has said there was “no tangible trace” of Shepherd since he last appeared in court and Mr Egan said he does not know whether he’s abroad.
“I don’t know where Mr Shephard is, no, I have no idea,” he said when asked about his whereabouts.
“The fact that I am in contact with him does not mean I know where he is.
“He is entitled to contact his lawyer, I have a duty to act for him and his best interests.
“I’m not part of the police, it is not my duty to dob him or say what I know about him, interactions with Mr Shepherd are privileged.”
Mr Egan refused to say whether he had been in contact with Shepherd by phone and would not disclose if he had actively encouraged the fugitive to hand himself in.
According to reports, Shepherd has received nearly £100,000 in legal aid, despite refusing to give himself up to the authorities.
In December, he was given permission to challenge his conviction by a judge at the Court of Appeal and Mr Egan defended his firm’s role in the case.
“The legal aid certificate, it’s the same duty it extends automatically to a consideration about whether the trial process was correct or if there were any errors,” he said.
“At the end of the trial we automatically look at that and decide whether there were any errors in law or mistakes made and in this case we considered that there had been,” he said.
“The submission of an appeal is already part of the legal aid process and we have a duty to consider that and do that if we think there has been errors and that’s what we’ve done.”