Why Anne Sacoolas won’t return

Her lawyer says a tragic accident would not have been prosecuted in the US

A lawyer for Anne Sacoolas, the American woman who caused the death of a 19-year-old motorcyclist in Northamptonshire in August 2019 by driving on the wrong side of the road, has explained why she is not willing to stand trial in England.

In an interview for my Radio 4 programme Law in Action to be broadcast this afternoon, Amy Jeffress said her client had never denied that the death of Harry Dunn was her fault.

Anne Sacoolas drove out of a US military base in Northamptonshire, turned left onto a country road and instinctively set off on the right-hand side, as she would have done in the United States. The collision happened some twenty seconds later. Mrs Sacoolas was entitled to diplomatic immunity as a dependent of her husband, who worked at the base.

One reason why the US refused to waive her immunity, the lawyer said, was that an unintentional accident would not be regarded as a criminal offence in the United States unless there was evidence of recklessness, drink or excessive speed. But Amy Jeffress told me she had been making efforts to resolve the case short of her client’s return:

We understand that community service is a typical sentence for offences like this and we have offered ever since over a year ago now that she would be willing to serve that kind of a sentence and to make a contribution in Harry’s memory, to take other steps to try to bring some peace to the family. 

Amy Jeffress said a tragic accident like this would be dealt with in the US as a civil claim. She added that Anne Sacoolas would be happy to meet Harry’s parents, answer their questions and express her condolences for their loss.

This is the first interview Amy Jeffress has given about the case. You can hear Law in Action on Radio 4 at 4pm today and then on BBC Sounds.