Harry Dunn: US citizen Anne Sacoolas pleads guilty to causing teenage motorcyclist's death
"We've got justice for our son": Geraint Vincent reports as Harry's parents speak outside of court
A US citizen has admitted causing the death of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn in a crash three years ago.
Anne Sacoolas, 45, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving in a hearing at the Old Bailey attended by around 20 members of Mr Dunn's family.
The 19-year-old died on 27 August 2019 when his motorbike was in a crash with a car driving on the wrong side of the road outside the US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire.
Sacoolas, the wife of a US diplomat at the base, had originally been charged with causing death by dangerous driving - which she denied at the Old Bailey - but she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving on Thursday.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson KC said the plea was accepted by the Crown.
He said it was a "plea that has been considered at the highest level and with the greatest care, and with great consultation with Harry's family".
Sacoolas will be sentenced in the week beginning 28 November, the judge said.
Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US government following the crash near RAF Croughton, and was able to leave the UK 19 days after the incident.
However, in December 2019, the Crown Prosecution Service authorised Northamptonshire Police to charge her with causing Mr Dunn’s death by dangerous driving.
Mr Dunn’s family, who had long campaigned for his killer to face justice, were sitting in court as she entered her plea.
Both Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn held their heads in their hands as Sacoolas pleaded guilty.
Telling the court the Crown accepted the plea of causing death by careless driving, Mr Atkinson said: “The Crown recognises putting at risk a vulnerable road user is capable of amounting to dangerous driving.
"The prosecution has taken into account… the mitigation available to this defendant and the balance of justice. It has been considered at the very highest level.
“The Crown considers the plea of causing death by careless driving is one that is acceptable.”
Mr Atkinson said the Crown would not be proceeding to trial on the causing death by dangerous driving charge.
The judge, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, urged Sacoolas to come to the UK to be sentenced in person, but admitted she had no power to force her.
Adjourning sentence until the end of November, she said the offence of causing death by careless driving carried a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment with a range of options from a medium-level community order to three years in custody.
“I direct Ms Sacoolas attend court to be sentenced," she said. “If the sentence… is one that does not involve immediate custody there is to be no barrier to her returning home after the hearing.”
The judge reminded the court that the case concerned the “sudden and unexpected” death of a young man three years ago, adding: “Attendance would provide weighty evidence indeed of genuine remorse.”
Speaking outside court, Mr Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said that “of course” she wants Sacoolas to return to the UK to be sentenced.
Mrs Charles said: “I do very much hope that she listens to the judge’s words and makes the effort to come back because that will truly show us all how remorseful she is.
“It’s all well and good saying you’re sorry but demonstrating you are is another matter.”
Harry’s father Tim Dunn added: “Anne will do what Anne will do – it’s up to her what she does.
“But I would urge her on behalf of my entire family to do the right thing and come back for the sentencing hearing.”
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