Harry Dunn's family's fury over Anne Sacoolas' "offensive" offer to do community service over killer crash

American's lawyer claims she would not face criminal prosecution in US for driving "instinctively" on wrong side of the road

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 3:53 pm
Harry's family launched their campaign for justice following the 19-year-old's death in August 2019

Harry Dunn's family today dismissed as "offensive" claims by Anne Sacoolas' lawyer that the Northamptonshire teen's alleged killer would be willing to do community service and make a "contribution" in his memory.

Mum Charlotte Charles, dad Tim Dunn and twin brother Niall launched a campaign for justice after 19-year-old Harry died when his bike was involved in a head-on smash with a car driven by Anne Sacoolas in South Northamptonshire in 2019.

The lawyer for Sacoolas, who returned to the United States claiming diplomatic immunity following the crash, said her client would not usually face criminal prosecution in the US.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Parents, Tim Dunn and Charlotte Charles, launched their campaign for justice following Harry's death in 2019. Photo: Getty Images

But the Dunn family's spokesman, Radd Seiger, rapped: "If you or I had done this to Harry we don't get to rock up at Northants Police HQ and say 'I'd like to choose from menu of potential sentences and one of those community service and maybe if I make a bit of contributuion to a memorial would you let me go please'.

"That's not how the system works.

"If we go down road that Mrs Sacoolas is wanting to go down where we get to do these things and effectively walk away with a slap on the wrist, that is a road to ruin.

"As I understand the interview, she said community service is a typical sentence for causing death by dangerous driving in England which it is not.

Harry was riding his bike near RAF Croughton in South Northamptonshire when he died

"This sort of accident as she calls it, we call it a crash, would not normally be the subject of criminal prosecution in US.

"She is absolutely wrong. Virtually every state in US has laws against bad driving that end up in a fatality, very similar to ours.

"In this country we are absolutely clear that you don't get to kill someone and walk away.

"I think Ms Jeffress is either confused or trying to reach out to British public and say effectively, you know what, she just made a mistake and it's no big deal.

"I cannot tell you how offensive that is to the family."

According to the BBC, Jeffress has told Radio 4's Law in Action that Sacoolas has "never denied this was her fault".

Reports say Jeffress added: "One aspect of this that has not been reported is that this kind of an accident, had it occurred in the United States, would not be prosecuted criminally.

"In the United States, these cases are only prosecuted where there is evidence of recklessness that rises to the level of close to intent - drunk driving, distracted driving, a hit-and-runs situation or excessive speeding.

"But there was none of that here."

Northamptonshire Police want to charge Mrs Sacoolas — the wife of a US diplomat based at RAF Croughton — with causing the teenager's death by dangerous driving but requests to waive diplomatic immunity have been rejected by the US government.

Mr Seiger added: "If you have diplomatic immunity you are supposed to respect laws of host country. It's not a get out of jail free card.

"It's a shame that Anne Sacoolas lawyer is trying to try this case in public rather than engage with the CPS to find a way forward.

"This is not about vengeance or retribution. We know Mrs Sacoolas and her two children in the car that night are victims, too."

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Jeffress said they had been trying to resolve the case in a way that would not involve Mrs Sacoolas' return to the UK.

She said: "We understand that community service is a typical sentence for offences like this.

"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 said Mrs Sacoolas had driven "instinctively" on the right-hand side of the road after leaving left the US military base where her husband had a job covered by diplomatic immunity.

At the time of the crash on 27 August 2019, Mrs Sacoolas had only been in the UK "for a few weeks" and had made "a tragic mistake".

Ms Jeffress added: "She's never denied that this was her fault, that she caused this collision by driving on the wrong side of the road."