The American was accused of driving on the wrong side of the road outside a military base in England on Aug. 27, 2019, and crashing into 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn, who shortly after died at a hospital from injuries sustained in the crash.
A judge in a London courtroom delivered the eight-month imprisonment, but the sentence was suspended for 12 months, likely meaning she won’t serve time behind bars. Sacoolas also faces a 12-month disqualification from driving in the U.K.
Sacoolas had pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal in October.
Sacoolas heard the verdict remotely from the United States after the U.S. government refused to extradite her for the trial, likely because she was a State Department employee when the crash occurred in August 2019. Her lawyers had claimed diplomatic immunity for why she fled the U.K. and refused to return for the trial.
Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told reporters outside the court that she is relieved to know that Sacoolas will have “a criminal record for the rest of her life” after the sentencing.
Radd Seiger, a spokesman for the Dunn family, blamed the U.S. government more than Sacoolas for the long process leading to Thursday’s verdict.
“We know she didn’t intend to kill Harry, our real enemy here is the U.S. government, who, after Harry’s death, instead of coming to do the right thing for this family, kicked them in the stomach and continued to kick them in the stomach for three years,” Seiger told the media. “The cowardly approach to ensuring that justice is done here, I think, is appalling, and I don’t understand why the Americans behaved this way.”
U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, in a statement Thursday, insisted that Sacoolas should have returned to the U.K. for trial.
“Anne Sacoolas has finally been sentenced in a British court. Since Harry’s death in August 2019, we have been clear that Ms. Sacoolas should return to the U.K. to face British justice. Since she chose not to, virtual hearings were arranged as the most viable way to bring the case to court and give justice to Harry’s family. I want to pay tribute to the incredible resolve of Harry’s family, and I hope that the judgment provides some closure,” Cleverly said.
The case caused a minor rift between the U.S. and U.K. after the U.S. denied the extradition of Sacoolas to the U.K. A district judge in Virginia allowed a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Dunn family to proceed against Sacoolas.