The Harry Dunn family are happy to have ‘done their job’ after the killer received a suspended sentence | UK News


The mother of British teenager Harry Dunn said last night she had kept her promise to bring justice to her son after his killer was convicted of causing his death.

Although US citizen Anne Sacoolas avoided jail, she received an eight-month suspended prison sentence and was banned from driving for 12 months.

Dunn’s family – whose three-and-a-half-year campaign for justice was cited by the judge as the reason Sacoolas finally found him guilty in a UK court after a UK extradition request was rejected – said describes the sentence as “job done” now that she has a criminal record.

Speaking outside the court, Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said: ‘Job done, promise kept. Correctly, correctly finished now.

“Anne Sacoolas now has a criminal record. Yes, Harry, we did. We would have been happy with anything – for us it was just about doing the right thing.

But the family vowed to refocus their energies to get to the bottom of the UK and US government’s handling of the case, including uncovering the truth about whether the UK was told Sacoolas was a suspected former CIA officer, and whether it gave him any additional protection. of extradition.

“Our real enemy here is not Anne Sacoolas. Our real enemy here is the US government,” a family spokesperson said last night.

Ms Charles collapsed in court earlier as Sacoolas, who refused to come to the Old Bailey in person, was convicted of causing the death of the 19-year-old by reckless driving on August 27, 2019.

The family had said they were “horrified” that the US government had advised Sacoolas not to travel to the UK to face justice, effectively rendering any sentence unenforceable.

Appearing via video link from the United States, Sacoolas was sentenced by a judge who urged her to attend the sentencing hearing in person after pleading guilty, again from a distance, in October to caused Dunn’s death.

Judge Bobbie Cheema-Grubb told Sacoolas on Thursday that “at no point” in the proceedings was it suggested that she was not free to travel to the UK, but that a new request for appearance by video link had been made last month. which referred to the harassment she and her family had been subjected to.

After asking for further information, the judge said she had then received ‘for the first time in this criminal proceeding’ what she described as a ‘barrier’ to her appearance in court from the government American.

It was a statement that the U.S. government did not support Sacoolas’ appearance and added, “His return could endanger important U.S. interests.”

In her sentencing, Judge Cheema-Grubb cited mitigating circumstances – including that Sacoolas was the mother of three young children and had demonstrated what the judge considered remorse – but she told him: “There is no doubt that the calm and dignified persistence of these parents and family of this young man has led through three years of grief and effort to your appearance in this court and [to] admit your guilt. »

Dunn was killed when his motorbike was hit by a Volvo driven by Sacoolas near the US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, where her husband was believed to be an intelligence officer. She had attended a barbecue at the air base and two of her three young children were in the car, which had turned on the wrong side of the road after leaving the gates of the site.

Details of the moments before and immediately after the collision were presented to the court by the prosecutor, Duncan Atkinson KC

The teenager had repeatedly said ‘Don’t let me die’ to a motorist who stopped at the scene to find Sacoolas standing by the side of the road with her two children and Dunn lying face down on the road. He was taken to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where he died later that night.

Sacoolas, who had called her husband to the scene and was seen crying with her head in her hands, told officers present she had ‘made a mistake’ and said: ‘I was so stupid’.

A breathalyzer test was negative for alcohol and Sacoolas recognized she was driving on the wrong side of the road, he said.

Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity on his behalf by the US administration and was able to leave the UK 19 days after Dunn’s death, prompting his family’s campaign to take the case to court.

Ms Charles had previously told the court how her son had been ‘senseless and cruel’ taken away from his family, who continued to struggle with stress, depression and the results of his inability to work.

“His passing haunts me every minute of every day and I don’t know how I’m going to get over it,” she said, speaking from a witness box directly in front of a screen on which Sacoolas and a lawyer could be seen.

“I am a broken woman and I just hope that one day I can start looking forward to things again with Harry on my shoulder whispering in my ear that he loves me and me doing the same for him.

“I promised Harry in hospital that we would do him justice, and a mother never breaks a promise to her son.”

Harry Dunn's family
Charlotte Charles with her husband, Bruce, Harry’s father, Tim Dunn, and his partner, Tracey, and Radd Seiger, their spokesperson, outside the Old Bailey. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

In a sign that there had been discontent at the highest levels of the UK government, a former foreign secretary who signed an agreement allowing the US government to assert diplomatic immunity on behalf of Sacoolas said he would not had “never intended” to be used in this way.

Sir Tony Baldry, who was deputy minister when the papers were drawn up in the 1990s, told the PA news agency he was “horrified” when the US administration suggested there was a “gap in the original deal after Harry Dunn’s death.

‘I don’t think it was ever intended, I’m quite sure, when the legal team at the Foreign Office thought about the deals, or agreed to the deals, whether you’re covered by immunity diplomacy when you weren’t actually acting as a diplomat,” he said.

Reacting to the sentencing, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said ‘important lessons’ had been learned from the case, which covered what he said were improvements to the process regarding immunity exemptions diplomacy and ensuring that the United States takes action to improve road safety. around RAF Croughton.

Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy paid tribute to the Dunn family and added: “The UK government must be honest and transparent about its mistakes under Dominic Raab and learn meaningful lessons from them. Sacoolas should not have been allowed to leave the country and the United States should have waived his immunity.

“The ordeal the family had to endure – compounded by a series of failures at the Foreign Office – must never be repeated. No other family can ever be allowed to go through the same thing.

Northamptonshire Police praised Harry Dunn’s family for ‘shed light’ on the case in their quest for justice, saying in a statement: ‘Throughout this long process, we have been determined to secure a resolution. court case for Harry’s family.

“They have spent over three years bringing this matter to light in their pursuit of justice for him. Although their tragic loss is still felt, we hope they now feel that justice has been served and that they can begin to move on with their lives.


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