Trump calls meeting with Harry Dunn's family 'beautiful but sad'

16 October 2019, 17:03 | Updated: 16 October 2019, 19:56

Donald Trump has described a meeting with the family of dead British teenager Harry Dunn as "beautiful but sad".

The 19-year-old died when his motorbike collided with a car outside an RAF base in Northamptonshire in August.

Anne Sacoolas, who was allegedly involved in the crash, returned to America after wrongly being granted diplomatic immunity.

Speaking to journalists in the White House about his talks on Tuesday with Harry's parents, the US president said: "My meeting with the family, it was beautiful in a certain way."

During the meeting, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn were told Sacoolas was in the next room, but declined to see her.

Referring to the suspect, Mr Trump said: "They did not want to meet with the person in question, but we had a very good meeting, they're very nice people."

He added: "I thought they were, based on what I saw, ready to meet - but now they say they only want to meet when they are in the UK and that'll be up to them."

Sacoolas, 42, could be handed an Interpol red notice or an extradition request if she is charged with causing death by careless driving or the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

It is understood that Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road when she hit the teenager's motorcycle.

On the meeting, Mr Trump continued: "It was very sad, to be honest. They lost their son.

"I believe it [Sacoolas' car] was going down the wrong way because that happens in Europe. You go to Europe and the roads are opposite.

"It's very tough, if you're from the United States you do make that decision to make a right turn where you're supposed to make a left turn, the roads are opposite.

"She said that's what happened. That happens to a lot of people, by the way."

Dunn's parents said on Wednesday that Mr Trump had been responsive in their encounter, but the plan to bring Sacoolas into the meeting had come as a bombshell.

Mr Dunn said: "He said he was sorry about Harry and then he sprung the surprise that Mrs Sacoolas was in another room in the building and whether we want to meet her there and then.

"We said no because as we've been saying from the start we want to meet Mrs Sacoolas but we want to do it in the UK so the police can interview her. We didn't want to be sort of railroaded, not into a circus as such, but a meeting we weren't prepared for."

Mr Trump said he had spoken to UK prime minister Boris Johnson about bringing Sacoolas into the meeting.

He said: "I spoke with Boris. He asked me if I would do that. I did it.

"Unfortunately they wanted to meet with her and unfortunately when we had everybody together they decided not to meet.

"Perhaps they had lawyers involved by that time, I don't know exactly. I know the people were lovely, very nice and they were desperately sad."

Mark Stephens, the lawyer for Harry's parents, said Mr Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien had the idea of overseeing a coming together of the families before hugging in front of an assembled media.

"(O'Brien has) heaped grief and pain on the family by making them go through this but not allowing them to get the closure they need by talking to Mrs Sacoolas before they can go onto the grieving stage," he told BBC radio.

Northamptonshire Police say they will soon submit a case file on the crash to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide on a charge.

The family also have the option of bringing a civil case against Sacoolas.

Northamptonshire Police said: "We will do everything on our side to ensure a full and thorough investigation takes place in order to get the justice Harry and his family deserve.

"Furthermore, we are working very closely with the Crown Prosecution Service with whom we visited the collision site earlier today."

Sacoolas has said she is "devastated" in a statement through her lawyers and is willing to meet Harry's family.

She said she was "disappointed" a meeting did not take place.

A statement issued by her lawyers said: "We are trying to handle the matter privately and look forward to hearing from the family or their representatives.

"Anne accepted the invitation to the White House with the hope that the family would meet and was disappointed."