US officials are resisting the appearance of Harry Dunn’s alleged killer Ann Sacoolas before UK magistrates because of fears she could be sent to jail, say legal sources.
Mark Stephens, the lawyer who previously represented the family, said those advising Mrs Sacoolas were seeking assurances she would not be jailed if she was tried before UK courts.
“I know the US is seeking assurances that she won’t go to jail. The US are asking the impossible of UK prosecutors and the legal system to guarantee that she won’t go to jail,” said Mr Stephens. “You cannot prejudge a trial.”
His claims came after it emerged on Friday that Mrs Sacoolas, the suspect in the death of 19-year-old motorcyclist Mr Dunn, will no longer appear before a British magistrates court next week after talks with her lawyers stalled.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced last month that Mrs Sacoolas would appear via video link at Westminster magistrates on Tuesday to answer charges of causing the death of Mr Dunn by dangerous driving more than two years ago outside the US military base where she worked.
However, on Friday, the CPS said that following “engagement” with her lawyers, the hearing on January 18 had been “vacated”. “This is to enable ongoing discussions between the CPS and Anne Sacoolas’s legal representatives to continue,” said a CPS spokesman.
Last year, a lawyer for Mrs Sacoolas said her client was willing to undertake community service, make a financial contribution in Mr Dunn’s memory and to meet the parents to help give them some peace – an offer rejected by the family.
Mrs Sacoolas’s lawyers hinted last month that they had yet to agree to her appearance at the hearing. “While we have always been willing to discuss a virtual hearing, there is no agreement at this time,” a spokesman for Arnold & Porter said.
Mrs Sacoolas is accused of killing Mr Dunn, 19, who died after his motorcycle collided with the American’s car, which was allegedly being driven on the wrong side of the road near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019.
The base is used by the US military and Mrs Sacoolas was given diplomatic immunity after the incident. She and her husband left Britain shortly afterwards.
The CPS charged Mrs Sacoolas two years ago with causing death by dangerous driving. US officials rejected an extradition request submitted by the Home Office in January 2021 and they have described their refusal to extradite her as “final” on a number of occasions.
‘Lost for words, deflated’
Radd Seiger, spokesman for Mr Dunn’s family, said: “We have full faith in the CPS and will wait to hear from them with further developments, hopefully in the near future.
“Harry’s family were obviously looking forward to the hearing on Tuesday so they hope an agreement will be reached sooner rather than later. It is vitally important for their mental health that justice and closure is achieved soon.”
Mr Dunn’s father, Tim, tweeted: “Lost for words, deflated.”
The CPS added: “Mrs Sacoolas has a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice any proceedings.”