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Family of Harry Dunn to hold second funeral after police return personal items

Harry Dunn (Family Handout/PA)
Harry Dunn (Family Handout/PA)

The family of Harry Dunn are to hold a second funeral for him, after police returned part of his motorcycle and clothing more than four years after he was killed in a crash involving a US State Department employee.

Charlotte Charles, the mother of the 19-year-old killed outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, said her family had been “re-traumatised” by the return of the items, which they believed had been destroyed in the crash.

She said some of her son’s body tissue was found on some of the clothing.

Ms Charles said: “After Harry died, we asked if we could have his motorbike, clothes and possessions back.

“It is a way for us to keep connected to our son and we wanted to make a sculpture out of the remains of the bike and to make teddy bears and cushions out of any clothing material that was left for Harry’s young cousins.

Harry Dunn death
Harry Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles (James Manning/PA)

“The police officers told us that everything had been destroyed in the crash as there was a huge explosion. We put it out of our minds therefore.”

She said that the family’s spokesman Radd Seiger had been informed before Christmas that several items survived, including clothing, the helmet, and the frame of the bike, had been frozen and preserved, pending the conclusion of criminal proceedings in December 2022

She added: “I am devastated that we have been deprived of his belongings for all this time totally unnecessarily.

“It has really hit me hard and I’ve had to go back on antidepressants. As if that weren’t bad enough, as the items of clothing were being returned, some of Harry’s tissue was also discovered on his clothing and we only found that out a couple of weeks ago.

“We are now therefore having to go through a second cremation service on Friday and we all are all re-traumatised. It just all feels so unfair.”

Mr Seiger said: “There has clearly been a massive breakdown in protocol and communication on the part of Northamptonshire Police.

Harry Dunn death
Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, watched by Harry Dunn’s family, passes sentence on Anne Sacoolas at the Old Bailey (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

“This poor family have been let down very badly yet again.  Why were they told everything was destroyed when it wasn’t?

“Why were they not told that was not the case until 15 months after the criminal case was concluded.

“Communication is key for vulnerable victims of crime such as this family and it failed here. Serious lessons must be learned and I am pleased that there is now going to be an independent investigation into how Northants police handled the case from start to finish.”

A Northamptonshire Police spokesperson said: “We are aware of the family’s plans to hold a second burial service and have been working closely with the family.

“Harry’s clothing, helmet and bike were removed from the original collision site in 2019. Recently, police examined the items in order to repatriate them with the family, at which time human remains were subsequently discovered on Harry’s clothing.

“Working with HM Coroner’s office in Northamptonshire, an officer returned the human remains to a funeral director on 7 February at the request of Harry’s family.

“The family have now taken possession of all the remaining property from the collision site in preparation for the private family service later this week. We will, of course, continue to support them going forward.”

Det Chief Supt Emma James, of Northamptonshire Police, added she would be meeting the family in the coming days to “ensure complete transparency”.

US citizen Anne Sacoolas was driving a Volvo on the wrong side of the road outside RAF Croughton on August 27 2019 before she crashed into the teenager’s bike.

The US State Department asserted diplomatic immunity on behalf of Sacoolas and she was able to leave the UK 19 days after the fatal collision.

She appeared before a High Court judge at the Old Bailey via video-link in December 2022, where she pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb handed her an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

The Dunn family had taken their four-year campaign for justice to the US, which led to a meeting with then-president Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington DC.