Lack of Driver Training Criticised in Harry Dunn Inquest

The inquest into the death of Harry Dunn, a motorcyclist who was killed when an American diplomat mistakenly drove on the wrong side of the road, has reached its end

Harry Dunn

Coroner Anne Pember has recorded the death of Harry Dunn as “injuries sustained during a head-on collision,” the inquest at Northampton coroner’s court heard this week. Dunn, aged 19 at the time, was struck by a car driven by American Anne Sacoolas shortly after she left RAF Croughton in 2019.

Pember criticised the US government for not giving diplomatic staff in the UK any driver training. She issued three ‘prevention of future death notices,” one related to the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence regarding training American drivers in the UK, another about the overstretched ambulance service, and the drugs carried by paramedics. 

One of the most notable elements of the case was Sacoolas leaving the UK 19 days after the fatal collision after the US Department of State asserted diplomatic immunity for her. A long battle for justice from the Dunn family followed, after which Sacoolas appeared at the Old Bailey before a High Court judge, but only via video link.

She pled guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, being sentenced in December 2022 - again via video link - to eight months in prison, suspended for a year.

Sacoolas wasn’t at the inquest, either, but a statement from her was read out on her behalf. “I made a tragic mistake that I will live with every single day for the rest of my life,” she said, adding, “There is not a single day that goes by that Harry is not on my mind and I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused.”

As per one of Sacoolas’ witness statements, she said she “instinctively moved to the right side of the road” after leaving the base. 

Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles told reporters outside Northampton coroner’s court of her “disgust” at the “disrespectful” decision by Sacoolas and the US embassy not to appear at the inquest. “It further bolsters my opinion that they have no regard for myself or my family,” she added.