'Heartbroken' family of Banburyshire teenager Harry Dunn speak out on first day of long-awaited inquest

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The ‘heartbroken’ family of Harry Dunn have spoken out about the devastating impact of his death on their lives, as the first day of the teenager’s inquest begins.

The inquest into the death of 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn began today (Monday, June 10) in Northampton.

Harry, from Brackley, died after his motorcycle was in collision with a car driven by American Anne Sacoolas near the US military intelligence base at RAF Croughton on August 27, 2019.

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Sacoolas was given an eight-month suspended jail sentence at the Old Bailey on December 8, 2022, which ended the family’s brave three-year battle for justice for their dead son.

Harry Dunn, who died after a collision outside RAF Croughton in 2019Harry Dunn, who died after a collision outside RAF Croughton in 2019
Harry Dunn, who died after a collision outside RAF Croughton in 2019

Harry's mother, Charlotte Charles, delivered an emotional statement at the inquest, saying: "It's been almost five years since Harry died and it still only feels like yesterday.

"Our lives were turned upside down when Harry died. I dream of him often and those dreams are very vivid. He’s left such a big hole in our hearts and our lives and we are just totally broken.

“My heart is as broken as it’s ever going to get, but to have learned Harry was dying in agony in a ditch on the side of the road without professional help to treat and comfort him, for such a long time, continues to shatter the already broken heart that I hold, and it haunts me every night.

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“Being here at Harry’s inquest is incredibly painful but we hope it will provide us with some answers, however painful.”

Anne Sacoolas, who was driving the car that collided with Harry Dunn's motorcycleAnne Sacoolas, who was driving the car that collided with Harry Dunn's motorcycle
Anne Sacoolas, who was driving the car that collided with Harry Dunn's motorcycle

Harry’s father, Tim Dunn, told the inquest how he comforted his son while he lay dying in a ditch, with his last words to his son being, ‘I love you’ before Harry was sedated by medical professionals.

Tim said: “Little did I know these would be my last words to him and the last time I would see him alive.

"When I look back to that night it almost seems unreal, almost like a nightmare. I would have done anything that night to change the outcome for Harry. The world is a lesser place without him in.”

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Outlining what the family hopes to understand from the inquest, Charlotte said: “I've been determined to understand what led to his death, what actions, if any, were taken and not taken to address the risk of road harm outside US bases in the UK, by both the US and UK authorities, and to hopefully ensure that all lessons that need to be learned are learned, so that no other family have to go through the heartache and sheer devastation we have gone through."

Charlotte expressed her concern about the lack of accountability from the authorities, saying: "We have learned that Harry is not the first to die in these circumstances and, sadly, he has not been the last. We are deeply concerned that the issue of road safety outside of US bases may have been neglected by both Governments and I would like the coroner to enquire why that is.”

Charlotte added: “Harry was a highly principled young man... we want to ensure that part of his legacy is that both our American visitors and those who live in and around US bases are safer; we do not want his passing to be in vain."

The mother also spoke about East Midlands Ambulance Service’s (EMAS) role in the tragedy, saying: "I know the ambulance service was late to Harry and we are concerned about why that was and what can be done to ensure there is no repeat.”

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The mother also spoke about her disappointment at Anne Sacoolas' decision not to attend the inquest, saying: "Learning Anne Sacoolas will not be attending Harry’s inquest was bitterly disappointing. She could have chosen to give me and our family this opportunity to understand what led to Harry’s death that night. I’m unspeakably hurt that she has chosen to hide instead."

The inquest heard Ms Sacoolas remains keen to answer any questions that may arise from her statement and will do everything she can to assist with the process.

The inquest, which will take place over the course of the next four days, is set to look into Ms Sacoolas’ evidence tomorrow (Tuesday, June 11).