Sacoolas did not go to the UK for sentencing, but appeared virtually
By Ronn Blitzer
A British court sentenced American Anne Sacoolas, who admitted to careless driving in August 2019 that resulted in the death of Harry Dunn, 19, to eight months in jail with a suspended sentence.
American Woman Pleads Guilty in Death of British Teenager
Outside of the RAF Croughton air base in eastern England, Sacoolas, the wife of an American intelligence officer, struck Dunn’s motorcycle while driving on the wrong side of the road. Three weeks after the accident, she returned to the country, and the American government triggered diplomatic immunity for her. In the end, she entered a guilty plea in October, but the Biden administration advised against having her sentencing hearing in the United Kingdom. She took part virtually instead.
In a statement that was read aloud by lawyer Ben Cooper, Sacoolas said, “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about Harry. “I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused,” she said.
The suspended sentence means that as long as she does not commit another offense in the next year, she will not face jail.
Despite characterizing Sacoolas’ actions as “not far short of deliberately dangerous driving,” Justice Bobbie Cheema-Grubb said she reduced the sentence – which could have been a maximum of five years in prison – due to Sacoolas pleading guilty and exhibiting good character prior to the crash. Cheema-Grubb also noted that the sentence cannot even be enforced while Sacoolas is in the U.S.
Dunn’s family also brought a civil suit against Sacoolas in Virginia federal court. In court documents, they claimed that Sacoolas may have been using her phone at the time of the crash, arguing that she might have tampered with her phone to hide data that would reveal this.
Her attorney, in that case, noted that Sacoolas “did not take any steps intended to remove data from her phone” but changed SIM cards when she returned to the U.S. because the old one was for the U.K.
The U.S. had refused to extradite Sacoolas, meaning she could have evaded authorities in the criminal case, but Cheema-Grubb said it was the “calm and dignified persistence” of Dunn’s parents that convinced her to go before the court and plead guilty. The parents spent three years talking to political figures in both countries in an effort to get Sacoolas to face accountability.
“As a family we are determined that his death will not have been in vain and we are involved in a number of projects to try to find some silver lining in this tragedy and to help others,” Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said in a victim impact statement. “That will be Harry’s legacy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.