'Frozen in time': Harry Dunn family on two years of heartbreak, campaigning and never giving up hope in fight for justice

'The reality is that every day is terribly painful'

Friday, 27th August 2021, 8:55 am

Frozen in time.

That is how Harry Dunn's mother, Charlotte Charles, describes how her family feels on the second anniversary of the Northamptonshire teenager's fatal crash today (Friday, August 26).

Anne Sacoolas has still not faced her charge of killing the 19-year-old by dangerous driving over the wrong-way crash outside Croughton on August 27, 2019.

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Harry Dunn's mother, Charlotte Charles

"Our suffering continues. We can’t believe it’s two years since we lost Harry," Charlotte told this newspaper.

"Most people would by now have been through the grieving process, had an inquest and a criminal case concluded.

"It feels like we are frozen in time in terms of our mental health and well being although we are clearly now taking giant strides toward securing justice.

"We will both be amongst the love and support of our families and friends. The reality is that every day is terribly painful.

Harry Dunn

"Anniversaries, Christmases, birthdays are all obviously more poignant but there isn’t a day that goes by without our hearts aching. We all miss Harry so so much."

Exactly two years ago this evening, Harry was heading out of Croughton on his beloved motorcycle having been at his twin brother, Niall's, house.

The teen was hit head-on by Sacoolas' car, who had just left RAF Croughton and was driving towards the village on the right-hand-side of the road with her young son in the back.

The base is used by the US Air Force as a surveillance centre and Sacoolas' husband, Jonathan, was based there on behalf of the American government.

Harry Dunn's family (L-R) Bruce Charles, Charlotte Charles, Ciaran Charles, Radd Seiger, Tracey Dunn and Tim Dunn

Harry was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford after suffering serious injuries but was pronounced dead a few hours later with his parents beside him.

Anne Sacoolas was initially co-operative with police but the next day the force was informed she had diplomatic immunity and could not be prosecuted.

That claim is at the centre of the scandal as it was based on a loophole in the agreement for US diplomats based at RAF Croughton.

It was agreed in the 1990s that diplomats at the base would not get immunity for actions taken outside of their jobs, such as a car crash, but it did not explicitly include their families.

So because Anne Sacoolas was officially designated with the British government as a spouse, US government lawyers argued the waiver did not apply to her and she could claim diplomatic immunity.

So three weeks after the crash, she and her family flew back to the States, despite Northamptonshire Police's attempt to get the immunity revoked.

That prompted Harry's family to start their campaign to shed light on their injustice and get Anne Sacoolas before a British court, which made headlines across the globe.

It has taken them from protests outside RAF Croughton and in London to meetings with the foreign secretary in Whitehall and President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

Anne Sacoolas was charged with causing death by dangerous driving by the Crown Prosecution Service in December, 2019, and the Home Office applied for her extradition, which the US State Department rejected.

The driver, who previously worked for the CIA, has admitted driving on the wrong side of the road and apologised for causing Harry's death but refuses to return to the UK for fear of being unfairly tried.

Harry's family have fought on regardless, challenging the diplomatic immunity claim in the High Court, suing the Sacoolases for damages in the US and keeping getting justice for him a priority for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Looking back on the past 12 months, Charlotte said: "It’s been a rollercoaster of a year. The absolute highlight, without getting into the politics of it, which we never do, was President Biden winning the election last November.

"Prior to that, we knew that President Trump, Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo and Attorney General Bill Barr were flatly refusing to reverse the decision.

"We just knew that President Biden would take a different approach to our case with his focus on human rights, his more empathetic approach generally, and that he had lost family members in a car crash and therefore knew that him coming into power was a game changer.

"Our spokesman, Radd Seiger, got to work straight away and through a lot of dialogue and effort in London and Washington, we were overjoyed to see that Boris Johnson and President Biden announced at G7 that the path to justice had been cleared.

"We are now just waiting to hear from the authorities how that will take place. It is no longer a question of if, but how and when.

"We are very confident that our main campaign objective of ensuring that there is accountability for Harry’s loss will be achieved sooner rather than later."

Tim and Charlotte were due to be in the US this week to hear Anne Sacoolas give evidence in their claim against her, which would have been the first time they had come face-to-face with their son's alleged killer.

But it was postponed at the last minute, which actually came as a relief to the parents.

Charlotte said: "This is not a good week for us and the risk of travelling to the US, where Covid is still running amok, was too great for us.

"It just gives an opportunity to focus on our family at this difficult time and the criminal case. We are in the hands of our lawyers in the US and will be guided by them as to the way forward."

Nevertheless, Harry's family are devastated that their campaign is spilling into a third year but they remain determined to ensure the promise they made to Harry to get him justice will be fulfilled.

Then there will be the inquest to deal with, which Charlotte said will hopefully uncover the whole truth about his death to help them recover and ensure it never happens again.

Harry's story and the family's campaign has garnered support from all over the world since it became public two years ago - not least in Charlton, where Harry lived, and the wider area.

Green became the colour of the campaign as the colour of Harry's motorcycle and ribbons popped up on street signs and in windows everywhere.

Dad Tim Dunn added: "We still can’t believe how much love and support we have had from the community in South Northants, where we were born and bred. It is overwhelming to drive around and to still see all the green ribbons.

"People are still so kind to us wherever we go and I can’t tell you how much that means to us. It gives us all a massive lift and boost and a reason to carry on.

"This is where our campaign started and everyone, including the good American service people at the base, got right behind us.

"We just don’t believe that our campaign would have got off the ground nationally and internationally without this crucial local support and from all your readers. We will be forever in their debt.

"The case remains at such a high profile on every continent and we still get thousands of supportive messages from all over the world.

"It is unbelievable to us that Harry’s passing has had such a massive impact on people and I hope that the US government will have learned its lesson and do the right thing next time instead of trying to run away from its moral and legal obligations.

"I also hope that people will see what is possible when you refuse to accept injustice lying down and that we inspire others to fight for what is right."