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Harry Dunn’s remains ‘kept by police for more than four years’, mother says

Harry Dunn's remains 'kept by police for more than four years', mother says

The family of Harry Dunn are holding a second funeral for the teenager after they discovered that police had kept some of his remains for four and a half years.

Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told Sky News she was left feeling “sick, angry and bewildered”, when she was told that “human tissue” had been found on his possessions during preparations for his inquest, which is due to be held in June.

Sky News can reveal Northamptonshire Police has started a full review into its handling of the case.

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‘It was three years of pure fight’

Harry, 19, was killed in a head-on collision with US spy Anne Sacoolas after she drove on the wrong side of the road near RAF Croughton, an American intelligence base in Northamptonshire.

Mrs Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US, and she returned there in 2019.

After a long campaign for justice by Harry’s family, she faced a UK court remotely and was sentenced to a suspended jail term in December 2022.

Mrs Charles said: “We’ve always been led to believe that there were no possessions… that there was nothing worth recovering from the scene of the crash because it was so horrific back then.

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“Over four and a half years ago, now, we didn’t question that. I suppose we were still in shock, numb to a certain degree.

“At the same time as getting those possessions, we then get the news that there’s also some soft tissue, as they called it, which was another bolt out of the blue. I felt sick, angry and totally bewildered.

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‘Why didn’t you go to UK to attend court?’

“Having been kept in the dark is pretty much unforgiveable, somebody did not follow protocol way back on day one to let us know where those possessions were.”

The family’s spokesperson Radd Seiger said: “Clearly the ball lay entirely with Northamptonshire Police… it seems to me that clearly items were recovered from the scene, were sent to the central warehouse to be frozen and preserved – why didn’t anyone, during that process, think ‘we need to let the family know that’s happened’?”.

Northamptonshire Police told Sky News: “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.”

Police also confirmed that they would be reviewing Harry’s case.

Detective Chief Superintendent Emma James, of Northamptonshire Police, said: “This was an extremely complex case from which we know there will be some learning for the force.

“As such, Acting Chief Constable Ivan Balhatchet has commissioned a full investigative review of the case, focusing wholly on the police investigation into the tragic death of Harry Dunn in August 2019.

Read more:
Anne Sacoolas pressed on suspended sentence
Harry Dunn’s mother feared ‘letting country down’

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“Terms of reference are being drawn up and, in order to ensure complete transparency, I shall be meeting the family and their representative, Radd Seiger, in the coming days to ensure we capture their feedback and also to reassure them that, whatever recommendations come out in the learning, will be shared with the family and enacted.”

Mrs Charles said that during Harry’s first funeral, the family had been preoccupied with rumours circulating locally that Mrs Sacoolas had fled the UK.

She said that this time a small number of family members would be able to focus entirely on saying goodbye to Harry again.

“On Friday, we’re going to commemorate and remember him and smile and laugh and take the opportunity to say what we should have been able to do four and a half years ago,” she said.

“I just can’t get my head around the fact that we’re having two cremations for the same loved one, it’s almost unheard of I’m sure.”