US citizen Anne Sacoolas has been charged with causing the death by dangerous driving of British teenager 19-year-old Harry Dunn.
Sacoolas, the wife of a US intelligence officer, returned to her home country after the car she was driving allegedly collided with the 19-year-old’s motorbike outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27.
The 42-year-old suspect sparked an international controversy after claiming diplomatic immunity – despite the Foreign Office later saying Sacoolas’s husband was not a registered diplomat in a recognized role.
Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, families of diplomats are granted immunity from arrest or detention, with the sending state able to issue a waiver of that immunity.
According to the CPS, the immunity does not apply to dependants of consular officials based outside of London.
The force eventually passed the completed file of evidence to the prosecution service on November 1 – with Wednesday’s charging decision coming just under seven weeks later.
Extradition between the US and the UK is governed by a treaty signed by both countries in 2003, and requests prepared by the CPS are sent by the Home Office to the requested state – in this case the US – through the diplomatic route.
Harry’s death was the start of three months’ worth of separate legal battles for the teenager’s family – a judicial review against the Foreign Office, a referral of Northamptonshire Police to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), an investigation into the US administration’s handling of the case and a civil claim against Sacoolas herself.
Since the investigation into the teenager’s death was launched, the family have taken their fight to the US and even met President Donald Trump at the White House.
The meeting with Trump also sparked controversy after it later emerged that Sacoolas was sitting in the room next door ready to meet with Harry’s parents – an offer the teenager’s family refused.
The decision to charge the suspect came just days after Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles was left “utterly devastated” by footage which showed Sacoolas reversing out of her driveway at her home in the state of Virginia.
On Friday, Charles said the charging of Sacoolas “was a huge step” towards seeking the justice she had promised her son.
Speaking outside the CPS headquarters in London, she said: “We feel that we have made a huge step in the start of achieving the promise to Harry that we made.
“We made that promise to him the night we lost him to seek justice thinking it was going to be really easy.
“We had no idea it was going to be so hard and it would take so long but we feel it is a huge step towards that promise we made Harry.”
When asked for his response to the decision, Dunn’s father Tim said: “I’m still overwhelmed by the decision, I can’t really say. I’m a bit speechless at the minute, I’m in shock from the meeting.”
Dunn was emotional as he spoke to reporters outside the CPS offices.
Reporters were also told that the extradition request for Sacoolas will be made before Christmas.