Anne Sacoolas, the US citizen accused of causing the death of the British teenager Harry Dunn by dangerous driving, has appeared before a UK court by video link, where a magistrate granted her unconditional bail.
Her appearance, sitting beside one of her lawyers, marks the end of a three-year wait by Dunn’s family for criminal proceedings to begin. They listened from the public gallery at Westminster magistrates court as the case was sent to the Old Bailey.
Sacoolas, 45, faces a charge of causing death by dangerous driving by killing the 19-year-old in a road crash outside the US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on 27 August 2019.
The chief magistrate, Paul Goldspring, told Sacoolas that she must attend the next hearing of the case in person, though that may change subject to an application to allow her to appear by video link.
Sacoolas spoke only to confirm her date of birth and name, while the chief magistrate agreed that her lawyer’s address, rather than her own, could be used for correspondence.
The US government asserted diplomatic immunity on the defendant’s behalf after the collision outside RAF Croughton, and she was able to leave the UK 19 days after the incident. A decision was reached to charge Sacoolas with causing Dunn’s death by dangerous driving in December 2019.
Wearing a blue suit jacket and a scarf and seated at a table, Sacoolas looked straight ahead throughout the hearing. Members of Dunn’s family sat in the public gallery, including his mother, Charlotte Charles, his father, Tim Dunn, stepfather Bruce Charles, stepmother Tracey Dunn and his twin brother, Niall. Each of them was wearing a green tie or green scarf in remembrance of Harry.
Sending the case to the Old Bailey, the chief magistrate told Sacoolas: “I hope you followed most of that. The first thing I have to do is send your case to the crown court. I’m going to grant you unconditional bail in this case – that means there are no restrictions from the court on you.”
The family, who have said they will not be commenting on the case until the conclusion of criminal proceedings, briefly stopped outside the court after the hearing, where a spokesperson reiterated their gratitude for the support shown to them.