Harry Dunn: US driver will not attend sentencing in person

Harry Dunn
Harry Dunn died following a collision outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in 2019 (Image: Justice4harry19)

A woman who killed a motorcyclist will not attend a sentencing hearing in person after advice from her employer, the United States government.

Anne Sacoolas, 45, admitted causing the death of Harry Dunn, 19, by careless driving via video-link at the Old Bailey in October.

She had been urged by judge Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb to return to the UK to face justice on Thursday.

But a renewed application for her to appear via video-link has been granted.

Sacoolas, a US citizen, was driving on the wrong side of the road near RAF Croughton, a US air base in Northamptonshire, when she crashed her Volvo and killed the motorcyclist in August 2019.

Anne Sacoolas
Anne Sacoolas, pictured here in 2020, will not have to appear for her sentencing hearing in person (Image: MEGA Agency)

 

She had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US administration following the collision, and left the UK 19 days later.

The US government advised Sacoolas not to attend her sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

Confirming a renewed application for her to appear via video-link had been granted, an Old Bailey 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.”

Charlotte Charles, Radd Seiger and Tim Dunn
Charlotte Charles, Radd Seiger and Tim Dunn (left to right) campaigned for the case to go to court (Image: PA Media)

 

Radd Seiger, spokesman for the Dunn family, said they were “horrified to learn that the United States government is now actively interfering in our criminal justice system”.

“Harry’s family are victims of a serious crime and they have been kept in the dark completely about what is to come at Thursday’s hearing since Mrs Sacoolas’s guilty plea,” 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.

“If there is a genuine reason why Mrs Sacoolas should not appear in court on Thursday, as directed by the judge, then the parents would happily accept that.

“But, on the face of it, it appears that this is nothing short of a cowardly act on the part of an oppressor.”

Mr Seiger said he had asked for an urgent meeting with the Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to understand what action the British government would take.

RAF Croughton
Harry Dunn was killed close to RAF Croughton, near Brackley in Northamptonshire, in August 2019 (Image: Martin Heath/BBC)

 

Sacoolas has attended both previous court hearings via video-link from her lawyer’s offices in Washington DC.

Adjourning sentencing at the previous hearing, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb told Sacoolas that although she could not compel her to face justice in person, it would provide “weighty evidence” of “genuine remorse”.

After a plea was entered, Mr Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said “of course” she wants Sacoolas to return to the UK to be sentenced.

The US State Department and Sacoolas’s representatives have been contacted for comment.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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