London An American woman who left the UK after killing a teenager in a road accident was sentenced to an eight-month suspended prison sentence on Thursday, though she refused to come to Britain for the trial. Anne Sacoolas, 45, was convicted of an August 2019 accident in which 19-year-old Harry Dunn was killed when his motorcycle collided with a car outside RAF Croughton, an air base in eastern England used by US forces. Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road at the time.
Sacoolas and her husband, a US intelligence officer, returned to the US days after the accident. The US government invoked diplomatic immunity on its behalf, sparking protests in Britain and causing tension between the governments in London and Washington.
Sacoolas admitted to causing death by careless driving, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Justice Bobbie Cheema-Grubb said Sacoolas’ actions were “not much less than intentional dangerous driving,” but she reduced the sentence due toand previous good character.
The suspended sentence means that Sacoolas will go to prison if she commits another offense within a year, although the judge acknowledged that the sentence cannot be carried out if she remains in the US.
The sentencing follows a, who met with politicians on both sides of the Atlantic in a campaign to get Sacoolas before British justice. The US authorities refused to extradite her.
Sacoolas entered a plea of guilty in October, but the US government advised her not to come to Britain for sentencing. She attended the hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court via video link.
Attorney Ben Cooper said Sacoolas had not asked for the diplomatic immunity claimed by the US government on her behalf. He read a statement from Sacoolas in which she said she was “deeply sorry for the pain I have caused”.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Harry,” the statement read.
The judge said the “calm and dignified perseverance” of Dunn Sacoolas’s parents had led them to admit guilt and appear in court.
Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said in a victim impact statement that her son’s death “haunts me every minute of every day and I’m not sure how I’ll ever get over it.”
“As a family, we are determined that his death will not have been in vain and we are involved in a number of projects to find a bright spot in this tragedy and to help others,” she said. “That will be Harry’s legacy.”