Harry Dunn's mum will never 'back down' after rejecting suspect's community service offer

9 March 2021, 23:47 | Updated: 10 March 2021, 08:43

By Kate Buck

Harry Dunn's mum said they will keep asking Anne Sacoolas to "do the right thing", after rejecting an offer for her to do community service in the US for the teenager's death.

Justice Secretary has dismissed an offer for Harry Dunn death crash suspect Anne Sacoolas to perform community service in the United States.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland dismissed an offer for Anne Sacoolas to perform community service in the United States.

He also responded to comments by Sacoolas's lawyer - who claimed the charge against her would not usually result in a prison sentence in the US - by describing the case as a "denial of justice".

Read more: Harry Dunn suspect 'sorry' and 'would do community service' in US

Read more: Harry Dunn's mum says she can 'still feel his hugs' 18 months on from his death

Harry's mum Charlotte Charles told LBC there is "absolutely no circumstance whatsoever" which will make her backdown on her insistence Sacoolas must return to the UK to face justice.

"We will keep asking her to do the right thing," she said.

"She has made it fairly clear that they are wanting to find a resolution but the only resolution that would suit any of us here in the UK, is to go through the UK justice system.

"I made that promise to Harry on the night that he died and theres is absolutely no circumstance whatsoever that is going to make me backdown on this.

"You and I would have to do exactly what I am asking Anne Sacoolas to do. I don't think that's a big ask."

Harry Dunn's family have rejected an offer for Anne Sacoolas to do community service
Harry Dunn's family have rejected an offer for Anne Sacoolas to do community service. Picture: PA

The Prime Minister's official spokesman, when asked what Boris Johnson thinks of Anne Sacoolas' offer to do community service in the US, said officials have "always sought to extradite" the suspect.

US authorities refused a request for the extradition of Sacoolas after asserting diplomatic immunity on her behalf, and she returned to her home country before being charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

Mr Dunn, aged 19, was killed in a crash outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019.

Read more: Harry Dunn's family can bring civil damages claim against Anne Sacoolas, US court rules

Sacoolas's lawyer Amy Jeffress has said that her client was not inclined to return to the UK to face trial, although Mr Buckland said the priority should be to establish liability for the death of Mr Dunn.

The PM's official spokesman added: "We have always sought to extradite - and we have asked for the extradition of - Anne Sacoolas and the denial of that we see as a denial of justice.

"We have always said that she should return to the UK and we continue to support Harry Dunn's family in their fight for justice."

According to her lawyer, Sacoolas would be willing to perform community service in the US and make a "contribution" in Mr Dunn's memory, as well as meet his family.

Claiming Sacoolas has "never denied" responsibility for the crash, Ms Jeffress said that, since the charge pending in Britain against the 43-year-old would not usually result in a prison sentence in the US, her client is not inclined to return to the UK to face trial.

The Dunn family's spokesman, Radd Seiger, told the PA news agency that a criminal sentence is only "for a court to determine" and "not for any of us to discuss".

Ms Jeffress said she and Sacoolas were striving to resolve the case in a manner that would not involve a return to the UK.

She said Sacoolas is "truly sorry for Harry's family and the pain" that has been caused.

"She's willing to meet with the family to provide whatever information they are seeking; and we truly hope that we can do that and give the family some measure of peace."

Ms Jeffress said Sacoolas had only been in the UK for "a few weeks" when she had made the tragic mistake of "instinctively" driving her car on the wrong side of the road and collided with Mr Dunn's motorcycle.

But she added that such cases in the US are only prosecuted criminally if there is "evidence of recklessness that rises to the level of close to intent - drunk-driving, distracted driving, a hit-and-run situation or excessive speeding ... But there was none of that here".

Ms Jeffress told the programme she understood this was one of the reasons the US did not waive Sacoolas's diplomatic immunity.

She also denied reports that Sacoolas had not called for help after the crash, saying she had flagged down another motorist who had called an ambulance while Sacoolas notified police at Croughton, where she worked with her husband for the US State Department.

Sacoolas had co-operated with local police, Ms Jeffress said, supplied a zero-reading breathalyser test, surrendered her phone to show she had not been using it, and was interviewed by police for several hours.

Ms Jeffress's comments came after Mr Dunn's family was given the go-ahead to proceed with a civil claim for damages against Sacoolas and her husband.

A judge's ruling in Virginia takes them a step closer to a legal showdown with Sacoolas, 18 months on from the teenager's death.

Should there be no settlement in the case, the next legal step would be a "deposition", in which Sacoolas and her husband would be forced to provide their account of events outside court.