Harry Dunn: Civil claim against Anne Sacoolas to remain in US

Harry Dunn
Harry Dunn, 19, died in hospital after his motorbike crashed with a Volvo outside RAF Croughton

A civil claim for damages against Harry Dunn’s alleged killer will remain in the US due to her “refusal” to return to the UK, a judge has ruled.

Mr Dunn, 19, died in a crash near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in 2019.

The suspect Anne Sacoolas returned to the US, claiming diplomatic immunity, and an extradition request was blocked.

Mrs Sacoolas, 43, had applied to dismiss the case on the grounds it should be heard in the UK.

The move came despite her legal team admitting she would not agree to face trial due to a “concern” she would not “receive fair treatment”.

Mrs Sacoolas has been charged with causing the teenager’s death by dangerous driving but an extradition request was rejected by the US government in January last year.

Anne Sacoolas
Anne Sacoolas, pictured on her wedding day in 2003, cited diplomatic immunity after the crash and returned to the US (Image: Aiken Standard Archive)

 

A court hearing in the eastern district of Virginia had previously been told her work in intelligence was “especially a factor” in her departure and that she “fled” the UK for “issues of security”.

But at the conclusion of the hearing on Tuesday, Judge Thomas Ellis said: “While it is commendable that defendant Anne Sacoolas admits that she was negligent and that her negligence caused Harry Dunn’s death, this does not equate acceptance of responsibility.

“Full acceptance of responsibility entails facing those harmed by her negligence and taking responsibility for her acts where they occurred, in the United Kingdom.”

The judge said he also took into account the “firm support” of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who submitted a letter to the court which read: “I strongly support [the Dunn family’s] right to bring the case.

“It is of course for the US courts to decide the issue of venue but for our part, the British government takes the view that British citizens can bring their case in whichever court they think appropriate.”

‘Pleased and relieved’

Due to her “refusal” to return to the UK, the Dunn family said they brought a civil claim for damages against her as “a last resort”.

Mr Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said: “We are pleased and relieved at the court’s decision.

“We only took this step as a last resort following the denial of justice in the extradition case on strong advice from our legal team.”

Other motions Sacoolas’s legal team submitted to dismiss the case will be heard on 3 March in Virginia.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday, Mr Raab said: “We’ve always said the death of Harry Dunn was a tragedy and we want justice for that, which is why I wrote a letter in support of those civil law proceedings.

“Just to be clear, we support the family seeking justice for the loss of Harry.”

Mr Raab said the government would be helping with the Dunn family’s accommodation costs in the US while they were there for court hearings.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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