Harry Dunn's killer told him she was 'so sorry' as he lay dying at roadside, inquest hears

Credit: PA
Anne Sacoolas said she "drove like an American" and was on the wrong side of the road. Credit: Family photo/PA

Harry Dunn's killer apologised to him as he lay dying at the roadside after she hit him while driving on the wrong side of the road near a US Air Force base, an inquest heard.

Anne Sacoolas said the teenage motorcyclist was "begging for help" after the collision, but she did not want to move him until paramedics had arrived at the scene near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire.

"I'm so sorry, I'm going to get you help," said the US government official, according to her statement to Northamptonshire Coroner's Court on Wednesday.

Sacoolas eventually pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving in the crash on 27 August 2019 and was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 12 months in December 2022.

She said: "I deeply regret having caused this accident.

"I made a tragic mistake that I will live with every single day for the rest of my life.

"There is not a single day that goes by that Harry is not on my mind, and I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused."

Explaining why the crash happened, she said: "I drove like an American and drove on the wrong side of the road."

Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US government following the crash near the US Air Force base RAF Croughton, and was able to leave the UK 19 days after the incident.

She did not return to the UK, a decision that sparked a long-running diplomatic row, which eventually ended with Sacoolas appearing before a High Court judge at the Old Bailey via video-link in December 2022.

Sacoolas was advised against attending her sentencing hearing by her employer, which prompted the family to say they were “horrified” that the US government was “actively interfering in our criminal justice system”.

She was also invited to give evidence in person at the four-day inquest this week, which she declined, leaving Mr Dunn's mother Charlotte Charles to say she was "unspeakably hurt" at the snub.

Harry Dunn died in a crash near the entrance to RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire. Credit: ITV News Anglia

'Hysterically flagged down motorist'

In one of her witness statements, Sacoolas said she “instinctively moved to the right side of the road” and was not aware she was on the wrong side of the road “until after the collision”.

A statement from her lawyers in the US in September 2020 said Sacoolas had been driving on the wrong side of the road for 20 seconds before she hit Mr Dunn outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire.

She told the inquest she “hysterically flagged down a motorist” after the crash and “begged her to get help”.

The 45-year-old said she had not received any training on driving on UK roads after arriving in the country.

Sacoolas, who gave her employment details to police as an analyst for the US State Department, rejected the coroner’s invitation to give live evidence to the inquest.

Her lawyer Ben Cooper KC previously told the court she had “provided everything she could to help this inquest” and offered to “answer any further questions”.

In one of her two witness statements, which was only prepared for the inquest on Wednesday, Sacoolas said: “Immediately after the accident, I hysterically flagged down a motorist and begged her to get help.

“While she called 999, I called my husband to contact the base for help, because we were so close to the base entrance. The base was the first to respond.”

She continued: “As I turned out of the exit from the Croughton Air Force base, taking a left turn, I instinctively moved to the right side of the road.

“I knew that the proper side of the road to drive was the left side, not the right side as I was accustomed to driving in the United States.

“My action was based on instinct and not recalling in that moment that I should have been driving on the other side.”

The inquest, which is due to conclude on Thursday, continues.

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