Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US national who fled the country after a fatal road collision with 19 year old Harry Dunn, has pleaded guilty to the charge of death by careless driving. Her plea changed from an initial not guilty plea after the charge against her changed from death by dangerous driving to the lesser charge.
Sacoolas and her lawyer appeared via video link at the Old Bailey in front of members of Harry Dunn’s family to identify herself and replied “guilty” to the charge of causing death by careless driving. The charge of careless driving carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment however the judge said the range of sentencing guidelines is from a medium-sized community order to three years’ custody.
The new plea has been accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after consultation with Dunn’s family, the Old Bailey was told. Sacoolas was then requested by the judge to return to the UK to be sentenced before a court based in the country.
“The personal attendance and voluntary surrender to the court of Mrs Sacoolas would provide weighty evidence indeed of genuine remorse,” Mrs Justice Bobbie Cheema-Grubb told Sacoolas at the end of a brief hearing, stating that there was nothing to stop her from attending a sentencing in person.
Charlotte Charles, the mother of Harry Dunn said that the promise she had made to her son to seek justice was now achieved as she left the Old Bailey. “That promise was made the night he was killed. It’s done. I’m done. I’m just going to stand aside now and let the courts do their thing. It’s been a long three years,” she said.
“It’s a great day. We’ve got justice for Harry today. I’ve not kept it a secret how I feel about how the government handled this. I just hope that questions are answered at some point. We have a lot more questions than we do answers at the moment. For now, this part of our campaign is done, but watch this space.”
Anne Sacoolas is due to attend court in the UK in person in the week commencing November 28.
Why is Anne Sacoolas on trial?
US citizen Anne Sacoolas, 45, is accused of causing 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn’s death by dangerous driving following a collision outside RAF Croughton, Northamptonshire in August 2019. Dunn was riding his motorcycle on the B4031 road about 400 yards from the exit of RAF Croughton on the evening of August 27, when he was struck by a Volvo XC90 driven by Anne Sacoolas.
Dunn was pronounced dead at the Major Trauma Centre of John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. Sacoolas left the UK and declared diplomatic immunity, due to her husband’s status as a CIA official. That declaration sparked outrage and led to three years of Dunn’s family seeking justice, including a visit to then president Donald Trump in 2019.