I made a tragic mistake – absent Anne Sacoolas apologises for Harry Dunn death

A US government employee has apologised for her “tragic mistake” which resulted in the death of Harry Dunn as she remained absent from his inquest.

In a voluntary interview with police two months after the fatal crash in 2019, which was read to the court on Wednesday, Anne Sacoolas insisted she was a “safe driver”.

The inquest heard that when asked what she believed had caused the collision, she told Northamptonshire Police officers: “I drove like an American and drove on the American side of the road.”

Harry Dunn death
Anne Sacoolas previously pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Sacoolas said in a witness statement that the crash which killed the teenage motorcyclist in August 2019 is something that will live with her “every single day for the rest of my life”.

Responding to the statements provided to the court by Sacoolas, the Dunn family’s spokesman Radd Seiger told the PA news agency: “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?”

The US State Department asserted diplomatic immunity on behalf of Sacoolas and she was able to leave the UK 19 days after the fatal collision.

She appeared before a High Court judge at the Old Bailey via video-link in December 2022, where she pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Sacoolas was advised against attending her sentencing hearing by her employer, which prompted the family to say they were “horrified” that the US government was “actively interfering in our criminal justice system”.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb handed her an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

In one of her witness statements, Sacoolas said she “instinctively moved to the right side of the road” and was not aware she was on the wrong side of the road “until after the collision”.

A statement from her lawyers in the US in September 2020 said Sacoolas had been driving on the wrong side of the road for 20 seconds before she hit Mr Dunn outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire.

She told the inquest she “hysterically flagged down a motorist” after the crash and “begged her to get help”.

The 45-year-old said she had not received any training on driving on UK roads after arriving in the country.

Commenting on the lack of training received by Sacoolas in his closing remarks, the Dunn family’s lawyer Patrick Gibbs KC told the inquest: “Within hours of Harry’s death, just imagine what must have been happening at the base when they hear that one of their people has killed someone on the wrong side of the road, 350 metres from the entrance.

“A boy, a young man on a bike.

“At the same as getting, as we know happened, the lawyers to work out whether there might have been some unintended loophole in the diplomatic relationship which would give her immunity and allow them to tell her to get on the plane and not to face criminal investigation here in the UK… would no-one have said ‘what did we do? What do the records show? Did we train her? What did we know about this?

“How can that not have been one of the very first things that was asked?”

Addressing the coroner, Mr Gibbs continued: “My submission is it is open to you to conclude…that the United States government ought to have known that there was a risk to life that was real and immediate, posed by its employees and dependents… the risk to life being to themselves and to their passengers and to other road users.”

He added: “Beyond having ought to know, you could conclude that they did actually know.

“They knew the risk, they knew of their duty and they knew of the failure.”

Sacoolas, who gave her employment details to police as an analyst for the US State Department, rejected the coroner’s invitation to give live evidence to the inquest.

Her lawyer Ben Cooper KC previously told the court she had “provided everything she could to help this inquest” and offered to “answer any further questions”.

In one of her two witness statements, which was only prepared for the inquest on Wednesday, Sacoolas said: “Immediately after the accident, I hysterically flagged down a motorist and begged her to get help.

“While she called 999, I called my husband to contact the base for help, because we were so close to the base entrance. The base was the first to respond.”

She continued: “As I turned out of the exit from the Croughton Air Force base, taking a left turn, I instinctively moved to the right side of the road.

“I knew that the proper side of the road to drive was the left side, not the right side as I was accustomed to driving in the United States.

“My action was based on instinct and not recalling in that moment that I should have been driving on the other side.”

Concluding her most recent statement, Sacoolas said: “I deeply regret having caused this accident.

“I made a tragic mistake that I will live with every single day for the rest of my life.

“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.”

The inquest, which is due to conclude at 1pm on Thursday, continues.