Anne Sacoolas: US citizen who killed motorcyclist Harry Dunn will not return to UK for sentencing

Credit: PA
Anne Sacoolas, left, admitted causing the death of Harry Dunn by careless driving. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The US citizen who killed teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn in a crash has been advised by the American government not to appear in person at her sentencing hearing.

Anne Sacoolas's legal team have been granted their renewed application for her to appear at the Old Bailey via video-link on Thursday.

The 45-year-old admitted in October that she caused the death of Mr Dunn, 19, by careless driving. The teenager 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.

Mr Dunn's family spokesman said they were "horrified" at the government's intervention, adding that it was "a cowardly act on the part of an oppressor" and that they had asked for an urgent meeting with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

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.

She 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.

Radd Seiger, the Dunn family's spokesman, said they had been "kept in the dark" about Sacoolas's possible return to face sentence.

“We are horrified to learn that the United States Government is now actively interfering in our criminal justice system," he said.

“Their ongoing cruel treatment of Harry’s parents is nothing short of inhumane and it continues to take a heavy toll on their mental health."

He said the family would accept "a genuine directed by the judge" for Sacoolas not appearing in person, adding: “But, on the face of it, it appears that this is nothing short of a cowardly act on the part of an oppressor."

From left, Tim Dunn, Charlotte Charles and Bruce Charles speak to the media outside the Old Bailey. Credit: PA

At the plea hearing, the judge, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, told Sacoolas she should come to the UK to be sentenced in person, but admitted she had no power to force her.

“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.”

She said: “Attendance would provide weighty evidence indeed of genuine remorse.”

Confirming a renewed application to appear via video-link had been granted, a court spokesman said: “The application made jointly by the prosecution and defence for Mrs Sacoolas to participate and be sentenced by live link has been renewed.

“The defence have supplied material in support of the application including evidence that Mrs Sacoolas’ government employer has advised her not to attend in person. The judge has granted the application.”

The offence of causing death by careless driving carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment with a range of options from a medium-level community order to three years in custody.

Mr Dunn's parents Tim Dunn and Charlotte Charles said at the time they hoped that Sacoolas would "do the right thing" and return to the UK to face sentencing in person.

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