Harry Dunn suspect could have been distracted by phone, lawyers claim

8 August 2021, 23:28

Harry Dunn was killed after a car crashed into his motorbike outside US military base RAF Croughton.
Harry Dunn was killed after a car crashed into his motorbike outside US military base RAF Croughton. Picture: PA

By Sophie Barnett

Harry Dunn's alleged killer could have been "distracted by her mobile phone" moments before the 19-year-old's road crash death, his family's lawyers have claimed.

On Thursday August 27 2019 the teenager was knocked off his motorbike and killed near American airbase RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire.

The suspect in that crash, Anne Sacoolas, remains in the United States claiming diplomatic immunity - despite his family campaigning for her to face the charges of causing his death by dangerous driving. She returned to her home country 19 days after the crash.

Court documents, submitted as part of the damages claim brought against Anne Sacoolas in the US, detail allegations from the Dunn family's legal representatives that the suspect has been "evasive" about her phone usage at the time of the crash.

She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving by the CPS, but a Home Office extradition request was rejected by the US State Department in January last year.

The Dunn family's lawyers submitted the latest documents as part of their opposition to a proposed "protective order", which was filed by the US administration in an attempt to keep the employment details of Sacoolas and her husband secret.

Earlier this year, the court in the Alexandria district heard suspect Anne Sacoolas and her husband Jonathan were employed by an intelligence agency in the United States.

The court heard this was "especially a factor" in the couple leaving the UK. Sacoolas's defence barrister has said the alleged killer fears she will "not get a fair trial in the United Kingdom" should she return.

The Dunn family's lawyers claimed no calls or texts were found on the suspect's SIM card on the day of the crash, but call records were found the day before and the day after.

A poster campaigning for 'justice for Harry' at the site of the crash.
A poster campaigning for 'justice for Harry' at the site of the crash. Picture: Alamy

Sacoolas and her husband Jonathan face the deposition process as part of the US civil claim in the state of Virginia later this month, which is likely to be the first time the Dunn family and their son's alleged killer will be in the same room.

The opposition motion reads: "Discovery thus far raises the possibility that Ms Sacoolas was distracted by her mobile telephone... and establishes that relevant phone data was deleted.

"Questions germane to this point will be asked during the depositions of Defendants.

It continues: "For more than three months, in discovery, Plaintiffs (the Dunn family) have pursued a line of inquiry about Ms Sacoolas's phone: both whether she was using her phone and what happened to the data on her phone.

"To date, her responses have, at different times, been evasive, non-responsive and inconsistent, and underscore why Plaintiffs should not be prevented from further inquiring about this topic.

"In short, at the time of the accident, Ms Sacoolas's phone was with her in her car.

"The data on that phone likely would reveal whether she was using the phone just before or at the time of the collision, for example, speaking to someone on a call, reading a text, checking the weather, or otherwise engaged with her phone so as to be distracted from realising that she was driving on the wrong side of the road.

"However, relevant data from her phone is now missing."

Commenting on the opposition motion, the Dunn family's spokesman Radd Seiger said: "The US government's decision-making process has been impossible to understand from the moment they learned of Harry's death.

"Instead of seeking to do the right thing for the family then, they foolishly decided to put their own interests first despite warnings from all of us that it would backfire in their faces.

"Now, even after all this time, they are once again choosing to put their own interests first and trying to ensure that a legitimate line of inquiry is shut down and to minimise what happened to Harry, drawing attention to themselves yet again.

"They (the US Government) appear to have been brought in by Mrs Sacoolas's lawyers as hired guns.

"As our lawyers have made clear consistently, we have no wish to lay bare their national security secrets. We just want to get to the bottom of things and that is just what we intend to do."