Prosecutors urge Harry Dunn 'killer' to return to UK for 'proper trial' over fatal Northamptonshire crash

Prospect of virtual hearing for Anne Sacoolas 'consigned to the bin' despite President Trump's hope

Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, 11:23 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, 11:25 am

Prosecutors have urged Harry Dunn's alleged killer to return to the UK to face a 'proper trial' over the fatal Northamptonshire crash instead of a virtual one.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has written to Anne Sacoolas' lawyers explaining the trial over a video conference idea was not possible over concerns she would not surrender to the court or accept its powers.

The CPS' letter comes as it is revealed the United States government hoped to proceed with a virtual trial as recently as last month, according to a letter to South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom.

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Harry Dunn

Harry's parents were told about the CPS' decision yesterday (Monday, November 2) and their spokesman, Radd Seiger, welcomed the support as they have always wanted Sacoolas to return.

"We are heartened to see that the CPS, as the independent prosecutors, remain determined that Mrs Sacoolas should return to face justice," he said.

"That is exactly what must happen. The idea of a virtual trial is now consigned to the bin."

Harry, 19, died in hospital after his motorcycle was involved in a crash with a car being driven by Sacoolas on the wrong side of the road near Croughton in August 2019.

The American woman used a legal loophole to claim immunity through her husband, who was working at RAF Croughton for the US government, and leave the country.

She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving in December but the State Department rejected an extradition request, a decision the American secretary of state said was final.

A trial over a video conference or in absentia was suggested if Sacoolas continued to refuse to come back but that idea has been discounted by the CPS.

CPS East Midlands chief crown prosecutor Janine Smith told Harry's parents: "We have recently written again to the lawyers representing Anne Sacoolas, explaining that the next step in this case is for her to surrender to the jurisdiction of the court.

"We confirmed to them that we do not wish to stand in the way of commencing and concluding the criminal proceedings but a proper trial would need to take place.

"We explained to them that we will consider ways and opportunities to move this case forward but this can only be on the basis that Anne Sacoolas surrenders to the jurisdiction of the UK court."

Ms Smith explained that legislation allowing virtual trials was brought in because of the coronavirus pandemic but it was not intended to allow suspects to appear from another country.

She added that another extradition request could be considered depending on the outcome of Harry's family's judicial review into whether Sacoolas ever had diplomatic immunity and the British government's handling of the case.

Mr Seiger said: "This diplomatic scandal is entirely the fault of the authorities in Washington and London and they have no one but themselves to blame. It is not a situation of Harry’s parents’ making at all.

"Harry’s life did matter. You do not get to kill someone and walk away. What on Earth were these governments thinking when they allowed Mrs Sacoolas to leave?

In August, Mrs Leadsom wrote to US President Donald Trump urging him to ensure Sacoolas faces a trial to give Harry's family closure.

On October 2, Ambassador Maureen Cormack from the US Department of State replied to the Conservative MP on behalf of the president.

"Any proposal regarding a virtual proceeding is in the first instance in the hands of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)," the letter reads.

"It is my sincere hope the CPS will make any proposals it has in this regard to counsel for Ms Sacoolas.

"I want to offer my condolences and sympathy to the Dunn family for the loss of their son. This was a tragic accident."