The US citizen accused of killing teenager Harry Dunn has appeared in court via Zoom from the United States to face a criminal charge for the first time.
Anne Sacoolas, 45, is accused of causing the death of 19-year-old Mr Dunn by dangerous driving in a collision outside a US military base in Northamptonshire on August 27, 2019.
The family of Mr Dunn have been forced to wait three years for a criminal case to begin, after Sacoolas left the UK and an extradition attempt was thwarted.
But on Thursday afternoon, she appeared in courtroom one at Westminster magistrates court over a Zoom videolink.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson KC said the unusual arrangements for the court hearing had been agreed in advance.
The defendant, wearing a blue blazer and patterned scarf while sitting along her US lawyer, said “Hi, I’m Anne Elizabeth Sacoolas” when asked to confirm her identity.
The court heard she was formally charged by letter on September 26 with causing death by dangerous driving.
“There is no indication of plea to a charge of death by dangerous driving, but there will be a guilty plea to a charge of death by careless driving”, said defence barrister Ben Cooper KC.
Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring sent the case to the Old Bailey for a hearing on October 27, and was told she must attend the next hearing. However, representations may be made to the Recorder of London, Judge Mark Lucraft KC, for her to appear again via videolink from the US.
“At the moment you are obliged to attend court”, he said. “That may change because of a joint application from lawyers to the judge in charge, to allow you to attend by videolink.
“That decision is for him and not for me. Do you understand?”
Sacoolas replied “yes” as the ten-minute hearing ended.
The Crown Prosecution Service announced it was bringing a criminal charge against Sacoolas in December 2019.
A first court appearance was originally scheduled for January this year, but was abandoned to “enable ongoing discussions”.
Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US government following the collision outside RAF Croughton, and was able to leave the UK 19 days after the incident.
According to the charge, Sacoolas “caused the death of Mr Harry Dunn” while driving a Volvo XC90 “dangerously on a road namely the B4031 at Croughton, Northamptonshire”.
Mr Dunn’s parents Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, alongside his twin brother Niall, were part of a large group of family members in court, wearing either a green tie or a green scarf in memory of the teenager.
The family said they would not be making any comment until the conclusion of criminal proceedings.
Sacoolas, whose address on the court file is of her legal representative in Washington DC, is accused of causing death by dangerous driving.