Annie Sacoolas pleads guilty to Briton’s death of Harry Dunn


LONDON — Anne Sacoolas, a 45-year-old American citizen who works for a U.S. intelligence agency, pleaded guilty in a British court Thursday to causing death by careless driving when she was wrong, according to her lawyers. drove and killed a 19-year-old motorcyclist.

The guilty plea marks a step forward for the victim’s family, Harry Dunn, in a high-level diplomatic row and three-year fight for justice. Sacoolas’ sentencing is scheduled for November.

The case is unique because the U.S. government claims that Sacoolas, a State Department employee, enjoyed diplomatic immunity after the crash and that she is still under investigation less than three weeks after the incident. left the UK.

It is also rare in the UK for defendants to appear throughout criminal cases via video link, as Sacoolas has so far. The judge in the case ordered Sacoolas to appear in person for sentencing — but it’s unclear whether she will.

She could be sentenced to a relatively short sentence – up to five years – but also a shorter sentence and community service.

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

“Every day, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, every bit of pain you feel – all the time you’re awake at night, you’re fighting the pain and keeping it in you in the stomach, it also burns the commitment,” she said. “It was as if everything was released.”

In court hearings in the UK and the US, Sacoolas was described as the wife of a US intelligence officer who is also an intelligence officer herself.

In 2021, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, one of her attorneys, John McGavin, said: “Mr. and Mrs. Sacoolas was employed by a U.S. intelligence agency, and this is what The reason she left.”

McGavin told the court he was unable to explain the family’s departure “totally frankly”. “I know the answer, but I can’t reveal it,” he told the court.

After Sacoolas crashed near an air base in Northamptonshire, England, the US government asserted diplomatic immunity on her behalf – and was able to leave the UK 19 days after the incident.

The US government has refused to extradite Sacoolas to the UK to face the charges in person.

Since the fatal crash, Dunn’s family has been fighting to strip Sacoolas of diplomatic immunity so she can return to court.

Anne Sacoolas, accused of killing Briton against Harry Dunn, was working for US intelligence, lawyers tell court

According to British police, Dunn was killed in August 2019 when Sacoolas hit his motorcycle while driving on the wrong side.

Sacoolas are merging onto a road near RAF Croton Station, a U.S. Air Force facility where many intelligence personnel are stationed. Sacoolas, her diplomat husband and her children recently moved to the base.

She had been in the UK for a short time, and newcomers quickly learned that Brits drive on the left side of the road and Americans drive on the right.

She was formally charged with “causing death by dangerous driving” in 2019, but admitted a lesser charge of causing death by “careless driving” – a 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 engaged” in the Dunn case.

The Dunn family settled the U.S. civil lawsuit against Sacoolas in 2021. Dunn’s parents have launched a U.S. federal lawsuit alleging wrongful death. In September 2021, the family’s spokesman, Radd Seiger, told The Washington Post that the civil case was “resolved” and they could move on to the criminal case.

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