Harry Dunn: Anne Sacoolas gets suspended jail term for fatal crash

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Harry DunnImage source, justice4harry19
Image caption,
Motorcyclist Harry Dunn died after being struck by a car outside a US military base in Northamptonshire

A US citizen responsible for the death of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn has been sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for a year.

Anne Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road when she hit the 19-year-old outside a US military base in Northamptonshire in 2019.

The case led to a transatlantic row between the US and UK governments.

Charlotte Charles said of the family's three-year wait for justice "we didn't back down because we have values".

Mrs Charles, Harry's mother, added that her "promise" to get justice for her son through the UK courts was "well and truly complete".

Media caption,

'Harry, we done it,' says mother of Harry Dunn

Following the crash, Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US administration and left the country 19 days later. She never returned to the UK.

Sacoolas, who admitted earlier this year to causing death by careless driving, appeared at London's Old Bailey via video-link after her employer, the US government, advised her not to travel to the UK to attend in person.

Mrs Charles said the 45-year-old's failure to attend was "despicable", adding she was "absolutely disgusted" at the actions of the US.

Mr Dunn's father, Tim Dunn, said: "It's been such a relentless time, we as a family fought off everything we can to get to this point."

'Long gone'

Mrs Charles added: "Anne Sacoolas has a criminal record for the rest of her life.

"That was something she never thought she'd see, something the US government never thought they'd see.

"Harry we done it. We're good, we're good."

Mrs Charles also spoke about being unable to say goodbye to her son because he was too injured by the time she reached the hospital.

"I couldn't comfort him at all. I couldn't let him know that I was there. So for me, the next best thing was to kiss that bruised lip of his and just let him know that I would fight for justice," she told Sky News.

She said the family was no longer interested in meeting Sacoolas, adding: "The time for any contact, for any remorse, is long gone."

Family spokesman Radd Seiger said they wanted a parliamentary inquiry and hoped to work with the Foreign Office to prevent others from going through the same thing.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has requested to meet the family, he said.

Media caption,

Watch: Anne Sacoolas sentenced for Harry Dunn death

Sacoolas, who was also disqualified from driving for 12 months, was originally charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but the UK's Crown Prosecution Service accepted her guilty plea to the lesser charge.

In her sentencing remarks, which were broadcast live, Judge Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said: "There is no doubt that the calm and dignified persistence of these parents and the family of that young man has led, through three years of heartbreak and effort, to your appearance before the court and the opportunity for you to acknowledge your guilt of a crime."

Mr Cleverly also paid tribute to the "incredible resolve" of the family.

"Anne Sacoolas has finally been sentenced in a British court," he said.

He added her appearance via video-link was "the most viable way to bring the case to court and give justice to Harry's family".

Image source, Julia Quenzler/BBC
Image caption,
Anne Sacoolas (right) appeared via video-link at the Old Bailey with her lawyer Amy Jeffress

The judge could not give Sacoolas a community order because, in her words, "it's obvious no enforcement can be carried out".

An immediate jail sentence would have needed Sacoolas to surrender to the court, so the judge's only real option was a suspended sentence.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson KC told the court that on 27 August 2019, Sacoolas turned out of RAF Croughton and drove 350 metres (1,148ft) on the wrong side of the road for 26 seconds.

She then hit Mr Dunn, who was riding his motorbike on the correct - left - side of the road.

When a witness reached the scene, Sacoolas said to her: "It's all my fault. I was on the wrong side of the road. I have only been here a couple of weeks."

The witness then rushed over to Harry and he said: "Don't let me die."

Image source, Mega Agency
Image caption,
Anne Sacoolas, pictured here in 2020, appeared via video-link from Washington in the US

When the police arrived, Sacoolas was said to be co-operative but in total shock, with her head in her hands.

She confirmed it had been her fault, Mr Atkinson said.

He said she told police she was on "the American side" of the road, from the base to the brow of the hill where the collision occurred.

Media caption,

Harry Dunn: Teen's death case explained in under three minutes

In a statement read to the court, Sacoolas said: "My tragic mistake led to the loss of Harry and I live with this regret every single day.

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

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