Anne Sacoolas: Harry Dunn family rejects suspect’s offer ‘to do community service’

US lawyer says client is willing to make a ‘contribution’ to the Dunn family

Mayank Aggarwal,Adam Forrest
Tuesday 09 March 2021 09:22
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<p>Harry Dunn was killed in a crash outside RAF Croughton in 2019</p>

Harry Dunn was killed in a crash outside RAF Croughton in 2019

US national Anne Sacoolas, the suspect in the fatal motorbike accident of 19-year-old Briton Harry Dunn, has said she is willing to do community service and make a “contribution” to his memory.

Ms Sacoolas has “never denied” responsibility for the 2019 crash in Northamptonshire that killed the motorcyclist, said her lawyer Amy Jeffress – but added that her client is not inclined to return to the UK to face trial.

The Dunn family has rejected the idea of community service, insisting Ms Sacoolas faces “justice” in the UK over the charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

“I made that promise to my son on the night he died that I would get him justice. My promise to him still remains. There are no circumstances at all under which I will break that promise,” his mother Charlotte Charles told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“If [Ms Sacoolas] wants to find a resolution then the only resolution is to face the UK justice system, and allow the Crown Prosecution Service, and the judge and the jury, to decide what the penalty would be.”

Asked about the idea of a “contribution” to the family, she said: “I’m letting that wash over my head. There is no price on Harry’s life. I’m not willing to discuss a contribution, whatever she may mean by that. She needs to go through the UK justice system.”

The US government asserted diplomatic immunity on behalf of Ms Sacoolas after the crash which killed the 19-year-old outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019. She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but an extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected by the US State Department last year.

Ms Jeffress said she and Ms Sacoolas were striving to resolve the case without any return to the UK. The lawyer claimed the charge pending in Britain against Ms Sacoolas would not usually result in a prison sentence in the US.

“We understand that community service is a typical sentence for offences like this,” the lawyer told BBC Radio 4’s Law In Action programme.

“We have offered ever since, over a year ago, that she would be willing to serve that kind of a sentence and to make a contribution in Harry’s memory, to take other steps to try to bring some peace to the family.”

Ms Jeffress also said Ms Sacoolas is “truly sorry for Harry’s family and the pain that his has caused”. She added: “She’s willing to meet with the family to provide whatever information they are seeking; and we truly hope that we can do that and give the family some measure of peace.”

Charlotte Charles, whose son Harry was killed in 2019

Last week, a judge in Virginia gave the go-ahead to Dunn’s family to proceed with a civil claim for damages against the teenager’s alleged killer and her husband in the US.

Should there be no settlement in the case, the next legal step would be a “deposition”, in which Ms Sacoolas and her husband would be forced to provide their account of events outside court.

The Dunn family’s spokesman, Radd Seiger, said Ms Sacoolas was “categorically wrong” to claim community service was a typical sentence in the US.

“The fact is that in the United States they have exactly the same laws against bad driving as we do here. The only difference is that they have tougher and stricter sentences over there.”

He added: “It is good to see Mrs Jeffress, who I respect enormously, finally reaching out to the British public. However, I would encourage her to enter into dialogue with the Crown Prosecution Service in order to ensure that Mrs Sacoolas faces the UK justice system.”

Ms Charles said there were many things the family still did not understand about what happened on the night her son died. “I’m hoping during the civil case [in Virginia] I will be able to get some of my answers, but we’re not going to be able to get all of them.”

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