US advises Harry Dunn's killer Anne Sacoolas NOT to attend sentencing

US government advises Harry Dunn’s killer Anne Sacoolas NOT to attend Old Bailey sentencing in person after she fled to America following road crash that killed 19-year-old motorcyclist

  • Mr Dunn was killed in August 2019 when he was hit by a car driven by Sacoolas 
  • In October, the 45-year-old finally admitted responsibility for Harry’s death 
  • She was urged to return to Britain to face justice at the hearing  

The killer of 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn has been advised by the US government not to attend in person her sentencing at the Old Bailey. 

Mr Dunn was killed in August 2019 when he was hit by a car driven by US diplomat’s wife Anne Sacoolas outside Croughton, a US military base in Northamptonshire.

In October, 45-year-old Sacoolas finally admitted responsibility for Harry’s death in a hearing at the Old Bailey, which she attended remotely from the US – drawing gasps from the public gallery.

She pleaded guilty to death by careless driving and sentencing judge Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb urged her to return to Britain to face justice.  

Anne Sacoolas, the killer of 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn, has been advised by the US government not to attend in person her sentencing at the Old Bailey. Above: Sacoolas pictured in Virginia after she returned to the US following Mr Dunn’s death

But the US has told Sacoolas not to come to the UK and has granted a renewed application for her to appear via video link.   

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.’

After hitting Mr Dunn, Sacoolas was given diplomatic immunity and returned to the US. An extradition request was subsequently turned down. 

Sacoolas faces up to five years in prison at her sentencing.  

Mr Dunn was killed in August 2019 when he was hit by a car driven by US diplomat’s wife Anne Sacoolas outside Croughton, a US military base in Northamptonshire 

The diplomat had been driving on the wrong side of the road after leaving the airbase on August 27, 2019. 

She hit the teenager as he was travelling in the opposite direction on his motorbike. 

When asked at the October hearing how she pleaded to the charge of causing death by dangerous driving, she leaned forward in her chair as she answered not guilty.

When asked how she pleaded to causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving, she stumbled over her words before saying: ‘Guilty.’

Gasps rang out from the public gallery where ten of Mr Dunn’s family and friends watched on, some of them bursting into tears.

The judge, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, said there was no order she could make that could compel Sacoolas to travel to the UK to be sentenced.  

Mr Dunn’s parents, Charlotte and Tim Dunn, previously told how they felt they could ‘get back to some sort of true happy’ after Sacoolas entered her guilty plea.

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, in October Ms Charles said: ‘I promised I’d get him justice… so three years on, to hear that guilty plea, it’s almost indescribable. 

In October, 45-year-old Sacoolas finally admitted responsibility for Harry’s death in a hearing at the Old Bailey, which she attended remotely from the US – drawing gasps from the public gallery. Above: Sacoolas appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court

Court artist drawing by Elizabeth Cook of Mrs Justice Bobbie Cheema-Grubb making her comments at the Old Bailey in London, after US citizen Anne Sacoolas (on screen right) pleaded guilty

‘The release of tension you don’t even realise you’re holding onto. Your shoulders come down.

‘The many many silent tears that fell down every one of our faces you didn’t even expect to come because you don’t even dream that moment is going to happen. It was amazing.’

She also spoke of how they can now celebrate this Christmas after saying the family had ‘ignored’ previous festive occasions since Mr Dunn’s death.

‘We can do Christmas this year now. We can have a real tree. We can put the presents back under it,’ she said. 

‘The last three Christmases we’ve just pushed it aside and pretend it’s not happening, and it’s just been another painful day that you have to get through like every other day.

‘I think this year we are going to be able to smile – we are going to do Christmas.’

WHAT IS DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY AND HOW DOES IT APPLY TO HARRY DUNN CASE? 

By Josh Payne, PA Chief Reporter

US citizen Anne Sacoolas has pleaded guilty to causing the death of Harry Dunn by careless driving during virtual proceedings at the Old Bailey.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how diplomatic immunity affected the 19-year-old’s case, and why Sacoolas was able to appear in court via video-link from her home country.

– What is diplomatic immunity?

Diplomatic immunity is a legal exemption from certain laws granted to diplomats by the state in which they are working.

It ensures they will not be liable to be prosecuted under the host country’s laws. It is governed by an international treaty called the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and UK legislation called the Diplomatic Privileges Act.

– Why was diplomatic immunity asserted on Anne Sacoolas’s behalf?

The US Government and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) position is that dependants (such as spouses or children) of US administrative and technical staff at RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire had diplomatic immunity at the time of the crash.

The Dunn family have disputed this but the High Court ruled Sacoolas was entitled to immunity in November 2020.

– Why could diplomatic immunity be asserted for Sacoolas but not her husband?

The Vienna Convention states waivers of immunity must always be ‘express’.

In an agreement drawn up for RAF Croughton in 1994-95 between the UK and the US, the immunity enjoyed by administrative and technical staff would be waived for actions outside the course of their duties.

Dependants were not mentioned in the agreements.

– Why was Sacoolas not extradited?

An extradition request, submitted by the Home Office in January 2020, was rejected by the US State Department – who described it as ‘highly inappropriate’.

President Joe Biden’s administration said the decision not to extradite Sacoolas was ‘final’.

– Why has Sacoolas appeared in a UK court virtually?

The court’s ability to conduct remote proceedings derives from coronavirus legislation, which allows even the most important court sessions, such as plea and sentence hearings, to be done virtually.

– Is Sacoolas able to walk away from proceedings?

The former head of extradition at the CPS, Nick Vamos, said Sacoolas ‘could at any point in these proceedings have simply turned her video-link off and walked away, and there’s nothing the court could have done about it’.

– Does the conclusion of criminal proceedings mean the end of the Dunn family’s campaign?

Although the main objectives of their campaign have been achieved, Harry’s parents are still to keen for there to be an inquest into their son’s death and a parliamentary inquiry.

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