Anne Sacoolas pleads guilty in the death of British teenager Harry Dunn


LONDON – US citizen Anne Sacoolas, 45, who her lawyers said worked for a US intelligence agency, pleaded guilty in a UK court on Thursday to causing death by reckless driving, when she drove badly side of the road and killed a 19-year-old biker.

The plea marked a step forward in what has become a high-profile diplomatic dispute and a three-year fight for justice by the family of victim Harry Dunn. Sentencing of Sacoolas is scheduled for November.

The case is unique because the US government claimed that Sacoolas, who was a State Department employee, had diplomatic immunity following the crash and that she left Britain less than three weeks after the incident while the investigation was ongoing.

It is also rare in Britain for a defendant to appear for an entire criminal case by video link, as Sacoolas has done so far. The judge handling the case has ordered Sacoolas to appear in person for sentencing – but it’s unclear whether she will.

She could be sentenced to a relatively short prison term — with a maximum of five years – but shorter sentences and community service are also possible.

Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told reporters after the guilty plea that this represented the fulfillment of a promise she made the night her son was killed, and that she can “stand aside now and let the courts do their thing” .

“Every day, every pain you feel from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep – all the hours you lie awake at night, fighting that pain and keeping it in the pit of your stomach, which has also delivered on the burning promise,” she said. “It was like it all came out.”

In court hearings in Britain and the United States, Sacoolas was described as the wife of an American intelligence officer and as an intelligence officer herself.

In 2021 U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, one of his attorneys, John McGavin, said, “Mr. and Mrs. Sacoolas were employed by a United States intelligence agency, and that is why she left.

McGavin told the court he was unable to “frankly” explain the family’s departure. “I know the answer, but I cannot divulge it,” he told the court.

Sacoolas was claimed diplomatic immunity on his behalf by the US government following the crash near an air force base in Northamptonshire, England – and was able to leave Britain 19 days after the incident.

The US government refuse to extradite Sacoolas to Britain to face charges in person.

Since the fatal crash, Dunn’s family has campaigned for Sacoolas to be stripped of her diplomatic immunity so she can return to face the courts.

Anne Sacoolas, accused of killing British teenager Harry Dunn, worked for US intelligence, a lawyer told the court

Dunn was killed in August 2019 when Sacoolas hit her motorbike while driving on the wrong side, according to British police.

Sacoolas was merging on a road near Royal Air Force Station Croughton, a US Air Force installation where many intelligence officers are based. Sacoolas, her diplomat husband and children had recently moved to the base.

She had only been in Britain for a short time and, as newcomers quickly learn, Britons drive on the left side of the road, while Americans drive on the right.

She had been formally charged with “causing death by dangerous drivingin 2019, but admitted his guilt to a lesser charge of death caused by “reckless driving” – a guilty plea accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service, which conducts criminal prosecutions in England.

Then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in June 2021 that he and President Biden were “actively engagedabout Dunn’s case.

The Dunn family reached a settlement in a US civil lawsuit against Sacoolas in 2021. Dunn’s parents had filed a US federal wrongful death lawsuit. In September 2021, family spokesman Radd Seiger told The Washington Post that the civil case was “resolved” and they could move on to the criminal case.

About Walter Bartholomew

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