A UK court has handed down an eight-month suspended prison sentence to Anne Sacoolas, an American woman who admitted to causing the death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn by reckless driving in August 2019.
Sacoolas, the wife of an American intelligence officer, was driving the wrong way when her car collided with Dunn’s motorcycle outside RAF Croughton Air Base in eastern England. She returned to the United States three weeks after the incident and the US government claimed diplomatic immunity for her. She eventually pleaded guilty in October, but was advised by the Biden administration not to return to the UK for her sentencing hearing. Instead, she participated virtually.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Harry,” Sacoolas said in a statement read by attorney Ben Cooper. She said she was “deeply sorry for the pain I have caused”.
The suspended sentence means that until he commits another crime in the next year, he won’t face jail time.
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Despite characterizing Sacoolas’ actions as “not far short of deliberately dangerous driving,” Judge Bobbie Cheema-Grubb said she reduced her sentence – which could have been a maximum of five years in prison – due to the Sacoolas’ guilty plea and display of good character prior to the incident. Cheema-Grubb also noted that the sentence cannot be enforced even while Sacoolas is in the United States
Dunn’s family also filed a civil lawsuit against Sacoolas in Virginia federal court. In court documents, they said Sacoolas may have been using his phone at the time of the incident, claiming he may have tampered with her phone to hide data that would reveal it.
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Her attorney in that case noted that Sacoolas “didn’t take any steps to remove the data from her phone” but did change the SIM card when she returned to the US because the old one was for the UK
The US 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 persuaded her to go to court and plead guilty. The parents spent three years talking to political figures in both countries in an effort to get Sacoolas to face responsibility.
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“As a family we are determined that his death was not in vain and are involved in a number of projects to try to find a silver lining in this tragedy and to help others,” said Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles , in an impact on the victims. declaration. “It will be Harry’s legacy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.