Dunn family ‘hopeful’ as attorney general considers virtual trial of alleged killer

Harry Dunn’s family say they feel “hopeful” after learning the attorney general is considering a virtual trial for his alleged killer or trying her in her absence.

Mr Dunn, 19, died when his motorbike was in a collision with a car, allegedly driven by Anne Sacoolas, outside a US military base in Northamptonshire on 27 August 2019.

Mrs Sacoolas, who is the wife of a US intelligence officer, left the UK and claimed diplomatic immunity following the crash and was able to return to her home country – sparking an international controversy.

Charlotte Charles is 'hopeful' about the possibility of a virtual trial

Harry Dunn’s mother: ‘Sacoolas needs to face UK justice’

Andrea Leadsom, the Dunn family’s MP, wrote to government ministers on 10 August this year asking for them to consider the possibility of Mrs Sacoolas standing trial while she was still in America.

Responding to the request, Robert Buckland QC said “holding a trial virtually or in absentia are… being considered” by attorney general Suella Braverman QC.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, said the family was “hopeful” about the prospect of a virtual trial.

She said it is “certainly something we wouldn’t object to” as long as it is in the UK justice system.

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“We realise it’s unprecedented if indeed it does go ahead. The UK justice system is something that Anne Sacoolas needs to face,” she said.

“Myself and my family need closure. We will continue to work really hard until we get it”.

A black car is seen being recovered after the crash
Image:A black car is seen being recovered after the crash in August 2019

Ms Charles added that a British-led virtual trial “would be the best possible outcome for us other than her being on UK soil”.

In a letter to Mrs Leadsom, Mr Buckland said: “I quite understand how important it must be to Harry’s family, as the anniversary of his death approaches, to achieve some sort of closure.

“The suggestions you put forward for resolving the impasse by holding a trial virtually or in absentia are as you know being considered by the attorney general, and she will respond as decisions about criminal proceedings in individual cases are a matter for her and the director of public prosecutions.

“My officials stand ready, however, to assist in any way they can.”

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As the one-year anniversary of Mr Dunn’s death approaches on Thursday, Ms Charles said it would just be “another day of battling through emotions”.

“There’s not a minute that goes by, not even a second, that you momentarily forget that he’s gone. It’s just always there – it’s constantly there”.

Mrs Sacoolas was charged with causing death by dangerous driving in December, but an extradition request submitted by the Home Office was later rejected by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Charlotte Charles says that her family have 'moved mountains' in Harry Dunn case

Harry Dunn’s family demand virtual trial

Radd Seiger, the Dunn’s family spokesman, reiterated that Mr Dunn’s parents would “raise no objection” to a British-led virtual trial in a British court.

He said: “They have never been concerned with the outcome of any criminal case.

“Their measured, respectful call has simply been that Mrs Sacoolas must go through it.

“The outcome is not within the control of any victim of a crime but every victim is entitled to see that the life of their lost loved one did mean something, did matter, and that they had a fair crack of the whip at justice.”

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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