UK rejects Anne Sacoolas offer to do community service over Harry Dunn death

Anne Sacoolas was driving a car that was in collision with Harry Dunn's motorbike. Credit: PA Media

The head of the UK's judiciary has rejected an offer by the suspect in the death of Harry Dunn to undertake community service in the US and make a "contribution" in his memory.

US citizen Anne Sacoolas, who allegedly crashed into Mr Dunn while reportedly driving on the wrong side of the road, also offered to meet the 19-year-old motorcyclist's family in a bid to resolve the matter without returning to the UK, says her lawyer.

But Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland dismissed the offer, saying "here in England and Wales we like to deal with things in their proper order", adding: "The current situation is a denial of justice."

Mr Dunn's mother Charlotte Charles told ITV News that she wants "accountability" and the community service offer has "not phased me at all".

She said: "No one is above the law. It's not up to us and its not up to them to choose what gets handed down. She needs to get to the starting blocks of our UK justice system and let them take it from there."

Harry Dunn's mother speaks to ITV News:

Ms Charles said she would consider meeting Sacoolas "but it needs to be after she's been through the UK justice system".

Spokesman Radd Sieger said the family is "confident as we ever have been that there's going to be a successful resolution to this".

On the community service offer, Justice Secretary Buckland said: "At the moment there is outstanding a very serious matter relating to alleged driving of this person and the death of a young man who has left behind a family who is naturally not just grief-stricken but who want justice,” he told the BBC.

“As the Foreign Secretary has said, the current situation is a denial of justice. Rather than talking about the sentence that would be appropriate, let’s actually deal with the question of liability first.

“What we are trying to do is to actually go through due process and deal with the issue of criminal liability first.”

Ms Sacoolas has “never denied” responsibility for the road collision that killed the 19-year-old motorcyclist, her lawyer Amy Jeffress said.

But Jeffress said since the charge pending in Britain against Ms Sacoolas would not usually result in a prison sentence in the US, her client was not inclined to return to the UK to face trial.

The US Government asserted diplomatic immunity on behalf of 43-year-old Ms Sacoolas following the road crash which killed Mr Dunn outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August, 2019.

19-year-old Harry Dunn was killed in a motorbike crash. Credit: Harry's family

She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but an extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected by the US State Department in January last year.

“We understand that community service is a typical sentence for offences like this,” Ms Jeffress told BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action programme.

“We have offered ever since over a year ago that she would be willing to serve that kind of a sentence and to make a contribution in Harry’s memory, to take other steps to try to bring some peace to the family.”

She said Sacoolas was “truly sorry for Harry’s family and the pain that his has caused”.

The parents and step-parents of Harry Dunn – Charlotte Charles, Bruce Charles, Tim Dunn and Tracey Dunn Credit: mother

“She’s willing to meet with the family to provide whatever information they are seeking; and we truly hope that we can do that and give the family some measure of peace,” Ms Jeffress told the programme.

Ms Jeffress said Sacoolas had only been in the UK for “a few weeks” when she had made the tragic mistake of “instinctively” driving her car on the wrong side of the road and colliding with Mr Dunn’s motorcycle.

But she added such cases in the US were only prosecuted criminally if there was “evidence of recklessness that rises to the level of close to intent – drunk driving, distracted driving, a hit-and-run situation or excessive speeding … But there was none of that here”.

Ms Jeffress told the BBC she understood this was one of the reasons the US did not waive Sacoolas’s diplomatic immunity.

She also denied reports Sacoolas had not called for help after the crash, saying she had flagged down another motorist who had called an ambulance while Sacoolas notified police at Croughton, where she worked with her husband for the US State Department.

Harry Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Sacoolas had cooperated with local police, Ms Jeffress said, supplied a zero-reading breathalyser test, surrendered her phone to show she had not been using it, and was interviewed by police for several hours.

Ms Jeffress’s comments come a week after Mr Dunn’s family was given the go-ahead to proceed with a civil claim for damages against Sacoolas and her husband.

A judge’s ruling in Virginia has taken the Dunn family a step closer to a legal showdown with suspect Anne Sacoolas, 18 months on from Mr Dunn’s death.

Should there be no settlement in the case, the next legal step would be a “deposition”, in which Sacoolas and her husband would be forced to provide their account of events outside of court.