US government advises Anne Sacoolas not to attend sentencing hearing

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The US government has advised Harry Dunn’s killer not to attend her sentencing hearing – with a renewed application for her to appear via video-link granted.

Anne Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road when she crashed her Volvo and killed the 19-year-old motorcyclist in August 2019.

The 45-year-old had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US government after the crash near RAF Croughton, in Northamptonshire, and was able to leave the UK 19 days after the incident.

Sacoolas pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving in October, where sentencing judge Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb urged her to return to Britain to face justice.

Harry Dunn death
Court artist drawing 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 careless driving (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

“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.”

The Dunn family spokesman, Radd Seiger, told the PA news agency the teenager’s parents were “horrified” to learn the US Government is “actively interfering in our criminal justice system”.

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.

Harry Dunn death
The family of Harry Dunn outside the Old Bailey (James Manning/PA)

“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 Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to understand what action the British Government intends to take in response.”

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 wants Sacoolas to return to the UK to be sentenced.

A spokeswoman for the US State Department said any consideration related to a criminal case in the UK is a matter between the Crown Prosecution Service and Sacoolas and her counsel.

Sacoolas’s representatives have been contacted for comment.

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