Anne Sacoolas has been given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, for causing the death of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn by reckless driving.
sacoolas45, was driving her Volvo on the wrong side of the B4031 in Northamptonshire, a dual carriageway with a 40mph limit, when she hit Harry19 years old, driving in the opposite direction.
The former US spy was convicted in an ‘unprecedented’ case at the Old Bailey – but did not attend the hearing in person after US officials intervened.
Latest updates on Anne Sacoolas sentencing
Sacoolas left the UK in August 2019, claiming diplomatic immunity following the collision outside the US military base RAF Croughton.
It has left the teen’s grieving parents facing a ‘tortuous’ three-year journey to seek justice for their son.
She pleaded guilty of causing Harry’s death by careless driving, via video link from Washington DC in October this year.
As well as giving Sacoolas a suspended prison sentence, the judge, Madam Justice Cheema-Grubb, also ruled that she was disqualified from driving for 12 months.
She told the defendant, who appeared in court on Thursday via video link from his lawyer’s office in the US capital, that as long as she remained in America her sentence could not be served.
Read more: Sacoolas questioned by Sky News’ James Matthews after his conviction
‘Little reason’ for Sacoolas not to appear in court in person
Judge Ms Cheema-Grubb criticized Sacoolas for not attending the sentencing hearing in person.
The court heard that US officials had advised him not to travel to the UK because his return “could jeopardize important US interests”.
But Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said there was “little reason” for Sacoolas not to attend, as she had been released on bail.
She also praised Harry’s parents and family for their “dignified persistence”, which she said had led Sacoolas to “admit his guilt”.
In handing down her sentence, the judge told Sacoolas: “You drove on the wrong side of the road for well over a moment and you didn’t realize what you were doing when you came to a bend in the road.
“I bear in mind that this was a short period of driving and you were unfamiliar with English roads. The death of Harry Dunn is, of course, the highest degree of harm.
“Anyone who has caused death while driving should feel remorse…and I accept that you feel genuine remorse.”
In a statement from Sacoolas, read by her lawyer in court, she said the mother-of-three lived with “regrets every day”.
She said: “Not a day goes by that I don’t have Harry on my mind, and I’m deeply sorry for the pain I’ve caused.
“That’s why I’ve been so committed to a resolution of this case since 2019.”
Read more: See the full Sacoolas statement
His attorney, Ben Cooper KC, also told the court that Sacoolas had been subjected to harassment and multiple death threats and moved several times.
“We did it Harry”
Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Harry’s mother Charlotte Charles gave an emotional speech in which she said Sacoolas would have a ‘criminal record for the rest of his life’.
Ms Charles, who said she promised her son in hospital she would get justice, added: “Yes, Harry, we did.
“We would have been happy with anything – for us it was just about doing the right thing.”
Family spokesman Radd Seiger added, “Our real enemy here is not Anne Sacoolas, our real enemy here is the United States government.”
At the time of the collision, Sacoolas was driving two of her children home from a barbecue at Croughton Air Force Base in Northamptonshire.
The court heard on Thursday that Harry was thrown over the car and laid in the road as he said ‘don’t let me die’ after the collision.
Sacoolas called her husband to the scene and was seen crying with her head in her hands, the Old Bailey heard.
She admitted she was driving on the wrong side of the road, with speed not a factor and a negative breath test, the court heard.
“I made a promise to Harry”
In a victim impact statement, Ms Charles sobbed as she described how her “world was turned upside down”.
“He was the light of my life before he was taken from us in such a senseless and cruel way. Harry just disappeared from my life that night, shattering my existence forever,” she told the court.
She said Harry’s twin, Niall, continues to be “very hard hit” by the tragedy, adding: “I didn’t just lose a son the night Harry died. I also lost Niall. “
Ms Charles added: “His passing haunts me every minute of every day and I don’t know how I will ever get over it.
“I promised Harry in hospital that we would do him justice and a mother never breaks a promise to her son.”
Ms Charles and Harry’s father, Tim Dunn, said they were ‘horrified’ that Sacoolas was instructed to attend the hearing remotely and accused the United States of “active interference” in British justice.
They described their fight for the truth as “totally torturous”, adding, “It’s not exhaustion that you can lay down and sleep.”
Mr Dunn told Sky News: “I think if you ever really told our story to someone who didn’t know it, they wouldn’t believe some of the things we had… from that awful night in hospital . “
But he added: ‘It was worth all the heartbreak and pain to prove that normal people in Northamptonshire can stand up to these people and immediately get what needs to be done and get justice.’
“I have nothing to say to him”
In October 2019, Harry’s family was invited to come to the White House and meet then-President Donald Trump, who secretly arranged for Sacoolas to meet them in the Oval Office.
But the parents had no idea of the meeting and refused to participate in a photo op that Mr Trump had hoped for.
Now they say they don’t want to talk to him.
Ms Charles said: “You never say never, but I don’t think there’s a chance of any of that. It’s a bit too late. She turned three.”
Mr Dunn added: “I don’t think it’s necessary for me to meet her to be honest. I have nothing to say to her.”
Speaking after the sentencing was concluded, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “We have learned important lessons from this tragic incident, including process improvements around diplomatic immunity exemptions and ensuring that the United States is taking action to improve road safety around RAF Croughton.”