Nafeza : US criticised over lack of driver training for Americans at base near where Harry Dunn died

Nafeza : US criticised over lack of driver training for Americans at base near where Harry Dunn died
Nafeza : US criticised over lack of driver training for Americans at base near where Harry Dunn died

Thursday 13 June 2024 10:46 PM

newsonline - The coroner in the inquest into the death of Harry Dunn has recommended better driver training for Americans at the RAF base near where the 19-year-old was killed.

Mr Dunn was hit by a Volvo driven by Anne Sacoolas in August 2019, after she drove on the wrong side of the B4031 in Northamptonshire while he was riding a motorbike.

He died in hospital the same day.

The coroner concluded Mr Dunn died as a result of a road traffic collision and issued three prevention of future death notices in a bid to stop similar tragedies occurring.

Analysis: Harry's family still have questions over crash - but killer has remained in the shadows

Two prevention of death notices were sent to the UK's Department of Health over the drugs paramedics carry and overworked ambulance services.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player 1:06

Sky News confronts Anne Sacoolas in 2022

A third notice was issued to the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence around driver training at RAF Croughton.

Sacoolas, a US government employee, had been based at the RAF station - which is also used by US forces - at the time the crash happened.

Northamptonshire coroner Anne Pember criticised the US government for a lack of training provided to Sacoolas before the crash.

Harry Dunn (L) and his brother Niall, with their stepfather Bruce Charles. Pic: PA
Image: Harry Dunn (L) and his brother Niall, with their stepfather Bruce Charles. Pic: PA

Harry Dunn's family responds

Neither Sacoolas nor representatives from the US embassy attended the inquest - prompting the Dunn family spokesperson Radd Seiger to say the US government's position was that "lives of UK citizens like Harry ultimately do not matter".

He said: "It was not enough for them to kill Harry. It wasn't enough for them to then kick Harry's family in their darkest hour and seek to deny and delay the justice that they were entitled to."

Speaking to Sky News after the inquest, Harry's mother Charlotte Charles said the family is "relieved", "proud" and "tired".

Asked if she thinks she will ever get to see Sacoolas face to face, Ms Charles said the American "hasn't got it in her".

"She's just a coward," she said. "Sadly, that's the only word that I can sum up. We're disgusted. Disappointed doesn't come anywhere close."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerCharlotte Charles and Sarah Jane Mee 1:21

'Running away we can't forgive'

Ms Charles criticised Sacoolas for "snubbing" not just Harry's family, but the coroner too.

"It's just extremely difficult for me to get my head around with her being a mum of three herself," she added.

"She really could have had the chance to redeem herself a little bit this week and show us that she really did care."

If she ever got the chance to have a conversation with Sacoolas, she said she would have wanted her to show remorse.

"We understand you made one horrific error in your driving that night," she said.

"Your driving, we can forgive… running away, we can't forgive. I couldn't have done that."

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Image: Harry Dunn's family with spokesman Radd Seiger (centre)
Tim Dunn
Image: Harry Dunn's dad, Tim, became emotional outside the inquest

Mr Seiger also said Labour, if they get into power, has promised the family a public inquiry into how Sacoolas was able to leave the country with diplomatic immunity after causing Harry's death.

"We won't let [the US government] get away with it and we look forward to working with the next government to establish this public inquiry," he said.

"We were all horrified as a nation to see how the US government treated Harry's family. This must never happen again.

"The American national anthem ends 'land of the free, home of the brave'. They haven't demonstrated an ounce of bravery at all preferring to run, hide and obstruct."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player"We were all horrified as a nation to see how the US government treated Harry's family. This must never happen again. 5:51

Dunn family 'totally disgusted'
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Anne Sacoolas's witness statements

Evidence and two witness statements from Sacoolas were read out during the inquest after the US government employee rejected the coroner's invitation to attend in person.

In one of the statements Sacoolas apologised for the "tragic mistake" she made on the day of the crash and said it was something that would live with her "every single day for the rest of my life".

Harry Dunn's family still have questions over fatal crash

Lisa Dowd - Midlands correspondent
Lisa Dowd

Midlands correspondent@LisaSkyNews

It was October 2019. I had been made aware of a terrible crash which had killed a young motorcyclist called Harry Dunn a few months earlier.

The tip-off was Harry's family were sure the person responsible worked for the US secret services, and she had left the country.

I was even given a name: Anne Sacoolas.

It was an unusual name. That night I did a search, and to my surprise she appeared on Facebook.

What spy would be on social media, I thought?

Read more

She said that when she turned out of RAF Croughton, taking a left turn, she instinctively moved to the right side of the road as she was "accustomed to driving in the US".

She also told Northamptonshire Police in a voluntary interview two months after the crash that she was a "safe driver" but "drove like an American and drove on the American side of the road".

The family spokesman said bases like this are a threat to Britain
Image: Harry was killed near the RAF Croughton base

The 45-year-old said she had not received any training on driving on UK roads after arriving in the country and after the crash "hysterically flagged down a motorist" and "begged her to get help".

"There is not a single day that goes by that Harry is not on my mind, and I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused," Sacoolas said in the statement.

Reacting to the statements, Mr Seiger said: "We have heard most of that before.

"Why on earth is Sacoolas not in court to answer the court's and the family's questions?"

Sacoolas left Britain 19 days after the crash after the US Department of State asserted diplomatic immunity on her behalf.

In December 2022, after a protracted battle for justice by the family, she appeared before a High Court judge at the Old Bailey via video link from the US, when she pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Sacoolas was advised against attending her sentencing hearing by the state department, which prompted the Dunn family to say they were "horrified" the American government was "actively interfering in our criminal justice system".

She was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for a year.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video playerHarry Dunn's twins' tribute to brother, who was killed after being hit by a car 3:55

Harry Dunn's twin's tribute

The inquest also heard from Mr Dunn's twin brother Niall who referred to him as "an amazing person" who helped him when he found life hard-going.

In a video played to the inquest, he said: "I couldn't have asked for a better brother, but beyond that, just a better person to just be forced to know".

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