A former US spy has pleaded guilty to causing the death of Harry Dunn by careless driving, following a three-year campaign for justice by the teenager’s family.
Anne Sacoolas, 45, was appearing at the Old Bailey in London. She entered the plea via video-link from Washington.
Harry’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, held their heads in their hands as she made her plea.
Ms Charles told Sky News that she felt “sheer relief” after seeing Mrs Sacoolas in court.
“I think that’s the overwhelming feeling… just sheer relief that we could look up and say Harry, we’ve done it mate. We’ve done what we promised”.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson KC said the plea was accepted by the Crown.
The guilty plea was watched by around 20 members of Harry Dunn’s family.
The fatal collision happened in August 2019 when Mrs Sacoolas crashed into Harry outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, an American military and intelligence base.
The 19-year-old, who had been on his motorbike, suffered multiple injuries and later died in hospital.
Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb urged Sacoolas to come to the UK to be sentenced in person but admitted she had no power to force her.
Harry’s mother said she “of course” wants Anne Sacoolas to return to the UK for her sentencing hearing.
The judge reminded the court that the case concerned the “sudden and unexpected” death of a young man three years ago, adding: “Attendance would provide weighty evidence indeed of genuine remorse.”
Diplomatic immunity for former spy
Mrs Sacoolas, who admitted driving on the wrong side of the road, left the UK 19 days after the incident after she had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US government.
She was initially described as a diplomat’s wife, but it later transpired that she was employed by a US intelligence agency at the time of the crash.
Harry’s family even travelled to America in October 2019 to lobby President Trump for help, but when they met him in the Oval Office, he revealed that Mrs Sacoolas was in a room next door.
Harry’s parents refused to meet her, saying they wanted her to face criminal proceedings in the UK.
In December 2019, the CPS authorised Northamptonshire Police to charge her with causing death by dangerous driving. On Thursday, she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of careless driving.
‘Nobody gets to kill somebody and walk away’
Mrs Charles said: “Nobody gets to kill somebody and walk away, whether intentional or otherwise.
“We know she didn’t intend to kill Harry, but she did… I promised Harry on the night that he was killed that we would get him the justice, and it all started right there”.
The US administration always refused to extradite Mrs Sacoolas to stand trial, but following a year of transatlantic negotiations she took part in criminal proceedings remotely.
Tim Dunn said: “It’s been worth all the heartache and the pain to prove…normal people from Northamptonshire can take on these people and get what should be done straight away and get justice”.