It’s been over three years since Anne Sacoolas drove on the wrong side of the road outside a UK Royal Air Force base, killing British rider Harry Dunn in the process. After a long, drawn-out process that was undoubtedly painful for Dunn’s family, Sacoolas eventually agreed to appear virtually in a British court, while physically remaining in the US. In October, 2022, she pleaded guilty to causing Dunn’s death by careless driving.
Sacoolas was officially sentenced on December 8, 2022. She appeared via videolink at London’s Old Bailey court. Her sentence: An eight-month prison term, to be suspended for 12 months. Effectively, what that means is that Sacoolas would only serve actual prison time if she were to commit another crime on British soil within the next year. Additionally, the sentence said that Sacoolas cannot drive for the next 12 months—although it’s not clear how enforceable that will be, given the geography.
After the sentencing, Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, said that she was pleased she could keep her promise to Harry to find justice for his death. She also said that she thought Sacoolas was a coward, and that it was despicable that she did not appear in person in court.
What’s next for Dunn’s family? According to the Guardian, they’re extremely dissatisfied with the way the US government handled the case. Sacoolas had allegedly been advised by the US government not to appear in person, even though the judge presiding over the case had requested that she attend the sentencing in person once she had already pleaded guilty.
Various reasons were given for Sacoolas not to return, including a statement attributed to a nonspecific entity within the US government that said, “Her return could place significant US interests at risk.” It’s been widely reported that Sacoolas is the wife of a US diplomat who was stationed at the RAF Croughton base in Northamptonshire, England. Additional reporting has added that she may have had, or still has, a US governmental role as well—and Dunn’s family wants to clarify exactly what happened, and why things were handled the way that they were.
What is certain is that Sacoolas left the UK 19 days after the crash, and that diplomatic immunity was initially cited on Sacoolas’ behalf. It’s also clear that, although the UK government requested extradition for Sacoolas, it was denied by the US government—until eventually, the logistics of all her virtual court appearances were worked out. Throughout all of it, Dunn’s family never gave up—simply keeping the pressure up to find justice for Harry, however long it took.