Dunn trial: US government concerned about risk of prison for Anne Sacoolas

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Officials in the American government have been resisting the appearance of Anne Sacoolas before a UK court because of fears she may receive a custodial sentence.

Sacoolas has been charged with causing the death by dangerous driving of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn.

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With Sacoolas having returned to the US, the Crown Prosecution Service had been pursuing the idea of a virtual trial, although their proposed date of January 18 did not go ahead.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mark Stephens, a lawyer who previously represented the Dunns, said that the US is “seeking assurances” that Sacoolas would not be jailed.

If convicted, the sentencing guidelines for death by dangerous driving are up to 14 years, however this is reserved for the most serious offences.

A more likely outcome would be a two-year suspended sentence, although the guidelines do state: “where the offender is not considered to pose a danger of re-offending and the level of fault is low, a community sentence may be deemed a more effective form of punishment and rehabilitation than imprisonment. In some cases where the level of fault is very low the offender may be fined.”

The circumstances of the individual offence and mitigating factors have to all be taken into account. For now, the CPS has simply stated that the delay is to enable “ongoing discussions” between it and Sacoolas’ legal team.

Dunn trial postponed: Talks between CPS and defendant’s lawyers still on going

First published 17 January 2022 by Jordan Gibbons

The expected court appearance of Anne Sacoolas, the woman charged with causing the death of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn, has been postponed.

Dunn, 19, died following a collision with a car on August 27, 2019. Anne Sacoolas was subsequently charged with causing death by dangerous driving, however the case has been unable to progress much further after Sacoolas returned to the US having had diplomatic immunity asserted by the American government. An extradition request was rejected by the US government.

A hearing was scheduled to take place at Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday, January 18, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) say this date has now been vacated.

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The CPS has always been insistent that Sacoolas would appear in one form or another, however Sacoolas’ lawyers have always maintained that no agreement has ever been reached. Responding to the delay, the CPS has said that it is to enable “ongoing discussions” between them and Sacoolas’ legal team.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Radd Seiger expressed disappointment that Tuesday’s court session was no able to go ahead as planned but said they remain in good spirits.

“We have full faith in the Crown Prosecution Service and will wait to hear from them with further developments, hopefully in the near future.

“Harry’s family were obviously looking forward to the hearing on Tuesday so they hope an agreement will be reached sooner rather than later. It is vitally important for their mental health that justice and closure is achieved soon.”

Harry Dunn trial set for January

First published on 16 December 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Harry Dunn's parents

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced that the case of Anne Sacoolas, the American national charged with causing death by dangerous driving of Harry Dunn, is to be heard by a UK court.

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Dunn, 19, died after a collision with a car while riding his motorcycle near RAF Croughton on August 27, 2019. In December 2019, the CPS authorised Northamptonshire Police to charge Mrs Sacoolas with causing death by dangerous driving, however the American government had previouslt asserted diplomatic immunity and she had already returned to the US. Despite numerous requests since, the US government has declined extradition.

The CPS has now said that that case will be heard at Westminster Magistrates Court at 2pm on January 18 2022. It had been reported that she would appear by video link however a spokesperson for the lawyers represented Sacoolas has said “there is no agreement at this time” and also confirmed she would not be returning to the UK to attend the trial in person.

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Jordan Gibbons

By Jordan Gibbons

News Editor, owns some old bikes. Should know better.