Harry Dunn: 'Victory for common sense' as US court clears way for claim against Northamptonshire teen's alleged killer

Judge rules family's civil case against Anne Sacoolas can go ahead in America

By Kevin Nicholls
Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 8:19 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 8:34 am
Cobblers fan Harry Dunn died after his motorbike was in collision with Anne Sacoolas' car in August 2019
Cobblers fan Harry Dunn died after his motorbike was in collision with Anne Sacoolas' car in August 2019

Harry Dunn's family last night scored a major victory in their bid to bring their teenage son's alleged killer to justice.

In what they called as a "landmark ruling," a US court judge ruled mum Charlotte Charles and dad Tim Dunn can continue their civil claim for damages against Anne Sacoolas can go ahead in Virginia.

Mrs Sacoolas wanted the case dismissed on the grounds that it should be heard in the UK.

The family's spokesman Radd Seiger described the ruling as a "verdict for common sense."

Judge Thomas Ellis said: "While it is commendable that defendant Anne Sacoolas admits that she was negligent and that her negligence caused Harry Dunn's death, this does not equate acceptance of responsibility.

"Although the fatal car accident that is at the heart of this case occurred in the United Kingdom, two key witnesses, the two defendants, are available only in the United States, as they refuse to return to the United Kingdom for trial.

"Furthermore, all witnesses identified by plaintiffs have voluntarily agreed to participate in the case and to travel to the United States to do so."

The Dunn family launched their Justice4Harry campaign after the 19-year-old Northampton Town fan died following a collision between his motorbike and Mrs Sacoolas' car near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019.

Mrs Sacoolas, 43, left the UK after the US State Department asserted diplomatic immunity on her behalf.

Northamptonshire Police charged with causing the teenager's death by dangerous driving. But Donald Trump's secretary of state Mike Pompeo refused a Home Office extradition request in January 2020, a decision the new Joe Biden administration confirmed as final.

The Dunn family brought the civil case against her as a "last resort".

Judge Ellis dismissed Mrs Sacoolas' submission that the UK would have been a "more convenient" forum.

Mr Seiger said: "The Sacoolases were on the one hand arguing that the civil claim for wrongful death should be tried in the UK as that was the 'more convenient' forum whilst at the same time arguing that she would not return to the UK to face a criminal prosecution because she fears she would not get a fair trial."

Other motions submitted by Sacoolas' legal team to dismiss the case will be heard at another hearing in the eastern district of Virginia on March 3.