Harry Dunn's killer Anne Sacoolas advised by US not to return to UK for sentencing

Diplomat's wife was driving on wrong side of road in England when she crashed her Volvo and killed the 19-year-old motorcyclist

The family of Harry Dunn, who was killed in August 2019, were 'horrified' to learn the US government was 'actively interfering in our criminal justice system'. PA
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A US citizen who killed teenager Harry Dunn in a crash near an American military base in the UK has been advised by her government against attending a sentencing hearing.

Anne Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire when she crashed her Volvo and killed the motorcyclist, 19, in August 2019.

She was able to leave the UK 19 days after the incident as she had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US government.

Sacoolas, 45, and her husband were both US State Department employees at the time of the crash.

Sacoolas pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving via video-link from the US in October, when sentencing judge Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb urged her to return to Britain to face justice.

However, a renewed application for her to appear via video-link has since been granted.

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's government employer has advised her not to attend in person.

"The judge has granted the application."

A Dunn family spokesman, Radd Seiger, said the teenager's parents were "horrified" to learn the US government was "actively interfering in our criminal justice system".

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, via video-link from the United States, to causing Harry Dunn's death by dangerous driving. PA

He said: "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 on October 20.

"We are horrified to learn that the United States government is now actively interfering in our criminal justice system.

"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.

"I have today asked for an urgent meeting with the [UK] Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to understand what action the British government intends to take in response."

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 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 wanted Sacoolas to return to the UK to be sentenced.

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

Updated: December 06, 2022, 1:41 PM