American Given 8-Month Suspended Sentence in Traffic Death of British Teen

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LONDON — Anne Sacoolas, an American who fled Britain in 2019 after fatally striking a teenager with her car, has been handed an eight-month suspended sentence, which likely means she will never face time behind bars.

Ms. Sacoolas, who was a U.S. government employee at the time of the crash, was driving on the wrong side of the road in Croughton in central England on Aug. 27, 2019, when she struck 19-year-old Harry Dunn, who was riding a motorcycle. He died a short time later at the hospital.

Ms. Sacoolas pled guilty by video link in October to causing Mr. Dunn’s death by careless driving.

On Thursday, a judge in a London courtroom said Ms. Sacoolas, who listened to the outcome via livestream in the United States, would be disqualified from driving for 12 months in Britain and was sentenced to eight months imprisonment. But the sentence was suspended for 12 months, meaning that she would serve time only if she committed any other offense in Britain, and then only if she were extradited.

Weeks after the crash, Ms. Sacoolas left the country, claiming diplomatic immunity in a move that prompted tensions between Britain and the United States. An extradition request for Ms. Sacoolas, who was employed by the State Department at the time of the crash, was denied in Mr. Dunn’s death. Her lawyers later said she had been working for an intelligence agency.

In the years since his death, Mr. Dunn’s parents have advocated tirelessly for Ms. Sacoolas to be held accountable for the accident. His parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, met in 2019 with President Donald J. Trump, who surprised them by revealing that Ms. Sacoolas was in an adjoining room. In the attempted intervention, President Trump said he had “offered to bring the person in question in,” but that Mr. Dunn’s parents declined to meet with her.

Shortly after the sentencing on Thursday, Mr. Dunn’s mother told reporters outside the Old Bailey central criminal court in London that her family felt a sense of closure now that Ms. Sacoolas “has a criminal record for the rest of her life.

“That was something she never thought she’d see, something the U.S. government never thought they’d see,” Ms. Charles said. “Harry we done it. We’re good, we’re good.”

On Thursday, Judge Bobbie Cheema-Grubb applauded the couple’s resilience as she delivered the sentence

“There is no doubt that the calm and dignified persistence of these parents and the family of that young man has led, through three years of heartbreak and effort, to your appearance before the court and the opportunity for you to acknowledge your guilt of a crime,” she said to Ms. Sacoolas.

In a statement read out by her lawyer in court, Ms. Sacoolas said she knows that “there is nothing I can say to change what has happened.

“I only hope that the truth and a resolution to this case will bring a measure of comfort and peace,” she said. “As always, I remain willing to meet and apologize to Harry’s family directly if that would support their healing.”

The Dunn family has also filed a civil lawsuit against Ms. Sacoolas in the United States and reached an agreement for an undisclosed amount of money last year.

In a statement Thursday, James Cleverly, Britain’s foreign secretary, said that the government had been clear that Ms. Sacoolas “should return to the U.K. to face British justice” in Mr. Dunn’s death.

“Since she chose not to, virtual hearings were arranged as the most viable way to bring the case to Court and give justice to Harry’s family,” he said. “I want to pay tribute to the incredible resolve of Harry’s family.”


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