The parents of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn have said they are ready for “the most difficult day of our lives” as they prepare for a legal showdown with their son’s alleged killer.
Anne Sacoolas is set to give evidence under oath in front of Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn in Washington DC as part of a civil claim for damages, days before the two-year anniversary of the 19-year-old’s death.
He was killed when a car crashed into his motorbike outside US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27 2019.
Sacoolas, 43, left the UK 19 days after the crash following the US government’s decision to assert diplomatic immunity on her behalf.
She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving by the Crown Prosecution Service but an extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected by the US State Department in January last year.
Mrs Charles and Mr Dunn told the PA news agency the deposition by their son’s alleged killer is their “chance to hear from her in detail about the crash”, adding: “It is important for our mental health to have the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle put together.”
They travelled to the US just over a month ago for their own depositions and described the process as “arduous and difficult”, but said giving evidence helped them to “stand up and speak for him as he cannot speak for himself now”.
Speaking to PA ahead of Sacoolas’s deposition, Mrs Charles said: “It’s almost two years since we lost Harry, and to this day we still do not know the full extent of what happened to him.
“We were told by the police in the weeks after Harry died that we had less than 1% chance of having anyone held accountable for his loss. That was not nor ever will be acceptable to us.”
The depositions are part of the “discovery” process in the Dunn family’s damages claim, in which correspondence and documentation relevant to the case will be handed over ahead of a trial at the end of the year.
The damages claim, brought against Sacoolas and her husband Jonathan, has unearthed a great deal of previously unheard material, such as the State Department roles held by the couple at the time of the crash.
Alexandria District Court in the US state of Virginia heard the pair’s work in intelligence was a “factor” in their departure from the UK, as they left for “security reasons”.
Mrs Charles continued: “Our lawyers in Washington have told us that the deposition of Mrs Sacoolas is our chance to hear from her in detail about the crash and it is important for our mental health to have the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle put together.
“Without that, our minds swirl around with uncertainty every day and I cannot put the image of Harry lying in the ditch by the side of the road dying out of my mind.
“We know it’s going to be the most difficult day of our lives other than having to leave Harry after he died in hospital, but we are determined to see this through and we are ready for it.”
Harry’s father told PA the deposition was an opportunity to “get our answers”.
Mr Dunn said: “We are really grateful to Judge Ellis for allowing us to bring the civil claim against Mrs Sacoolas in the US, where she decided to base herself after leaving the UK.
“As a family, we all felt it was important to do and we followed legal advice.
“Having to travel to the US, particularly in the middle of a pandemic which appears to be hitting the US harder than ever at the moment, is not easy.
“But this is about Harry and our rights as human beings, and nothing will keep us away from doing what we have to do to get to the bottom of things and secure our rights.
“I don’t care how hard this will be. Charlotte and I will sit in the same room with Mrs Sacoolas and get our answers.”