Anne Sacoolas, the American woman who fled the UK after killing motorcyclist Harry Dunn in a traffic accident in 2019, is willing to do community service in the US and “make a contribution” in the teenager’s memory her lawyer said Tuesday.
But Sacoolas is still refusing to return to the UK to face prosecution and her lawyer Amy Jeffress is now arguing that her client would not be criminally prosecuted in the US for a similar accident.
Sacoolas admits she was driving on the wrong side of the road when she hit Dunn in August 2019.
But Jeffress argued that would not be enough for prosecution in the United States.
“This kind of an accident had it occurred in the United States would not be prosecuted criminally. So in the United States these cases are only prosecuted where there is evidence of recklessness that rises to the level of close to intent, so drunk driving, distracted driving or a hit-and-run situation or excessive speeding. But there was none of that here,” Jeffress told BBC Radio.
CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan disputed the lawyer’s assertion.
“I do not believe that attorney Amy Jeffress statement accurately describes US law. Driving on the wrong side of the road and killing someone in the process could be a criminal offense in the United States,” Callan, a former New York City homicide prosecutor, told CNN Tuesday.
“In recent years, a number of US states have enacted criminal statutes referring to ‘vehicular homicide.’ These statutes make it possible to prosecute for negligent driving in particularly egregious circumstances. Driving on the wrong side of the road might fit that category under some of the statutes,” Callan said.
Sacoolas has been charged in the UK with causing 19-year-old Dunn’s death by dangerous driving, but the US State Department has refused a UK request to extradite her.
“We have actually been making efforts to resolve this case, short of her return. We understand that community service is a typical sentence for offenses 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,” Jeffress added.
Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, rejected the offer.
“I made a promise to Harry the night he died that I would get him justice. There are no circumstances in which I am going to break that promise. You do not get to kill someone and walk away. This campaign has been all about accountability and ensuring that no one is above the law,” she said Tuesday in a statement.
Robert Buckland, the UK’s Secretary of State for Justice, told BBC Radio’s Today program that the current situation had resulted in justice being denied.
“The current situation is a denial of justice. Rather than talking about the sentence that would be appropriate, let’s actually deal with the question of liability first,” he said Tuesday.
“It is good to see Mrs. Jeffress, who I respect enormously, finally reaching out to the British public,” Dunn family spokesman Radd Seiger said Tuesday in a statement.
“However, I would encourage her to enter into dialogue with the Crown Prosecution Service in order to ensure that Mrs. Sacoolas faces the UK justice system. It is not for either of us to try this case in public. We have one of the fairest legal systems in the world and it is vitally important that justice is not only done for Harry, but be seen to be done.”
Seiger added: “Mrs. Sacoolas must give a full account of what happened under oath in Court and the matter must then be left in the hands of the judge and jury.”