Harry Dunn death: Anne Sacoolas may face virtual trial over crash that killed teenager

Attorney General considering 'holding a trial virtually or in absentia', minister tells family

Chiara Giordano
Thursday 27 August 2020 21:37
Andrea Leadsom makes appeal to Donald Trump over Harry Dunn case

Harry Dunn’s family have learned the attorney general is considering a virtual trial for his alleged killer or trying her in her absence.

Dunn, 19, died after his motorbike collided with a car driven by Anne Sacoolas outside a US military base in Northamptonshire on 27 August 2019.

As his family prepares to mark the first anniversary of his death on Thursday, they learned the government is considering the option in a letter from justice minister Robert Buckland QC to their MP Andrea Leadsom.

Ms Leadsom wrote to government ministers on 10 August asking them to consider the possibility of Ms Sacoolas standing trial while she is still in the US.

Mr Buckland, the first minister to reply, said the options of “holding a trial virtually or in absentia are...being considered” by Suella Braverman QC.

In a letter to Ms Leadsom, seen by the PA news agency, Mr Buckland said: “I quite understand how important it must be to Harry’s family, as the anniversary of his death approaches, to achieve some sort of closure.

“The suggestions you put forward for resolving the impasse by holding a trial virtually or in absentia are as you know being considered by the attorney general, and she will respond as decisions about criminal proceedings in individual cases are a matter for her and the director of public prosecutions.

“My officials stand ready, however, to assist in any way they can.”

Ms Sacoolas, 42, the wife of a US intelligence official, claimed diplomatic immunity following the crash and was able to return to America, sparking an international controversy.

She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving in December but an extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo the following month – a decision later described by the US State Department as “final”.

Anne Sacoolas was charged with causing death by dangerous driving last year 

Speaking to PA about Mr Buckland’s response, Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said: “My family and I have not been able to grieve this year without justice and closure.

“It is doing us real harm and I can’t believe how cruel the US government are being.

“They should be in no doubt – my family and I are going nowhere until we fulfil that promise to Harry.

“I can see the authorities in London are doing everything they can to ensure that that is just what is going to happen but we will leave them to decide how it happens.”

The family’s spokesman Radd Seiger added: “If the authorities decide that a British trial led by a British judge in a British Court should take place with Mrs Sacoolas attending virtually, then the parents will raise no objection.

“The outcome is not within the control of any victim of a crime but every victim is entitled to see that the life of their lost loved one did mean something, did matter, and that they had a fair crack of the whip at justice.”

A government spokesperson said: “The government’s deepest sympathies remain with Harry’s family. We are doing everything we can to achieve justice and the case continues to be raised at the highest levels.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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