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US servicewoman charged over motorcyclist’s death ‘on duty at time’, court told





A US servicewoman was still on duty as she drove home from work at RAF Lakenheath and allegedly killed a motorcyclist, her lawyer has told a court.

Father-of-one Matthew Day, 33, died after a red Honda Accord car collided with the Yamaha motorbike he was riding in Southery, near Downham Market, Norfolk, on August 26.

Airman first class Mikayla Hayes, 24, is charged with causing Mr Day’s death by careless driving.

Members of both the defendant’s, pictured, and the deceased’s families were at court. Picture: PA
Members of both the defendant’s, pictured, and the deceased’s families were at court. Picture: PA

Deputy senior district judge Tan Ikram is considering the issue of jurisdiction in the case, amid arguments over whether she should be dealt with by a UK court or US military court.

The US Air Force has served the Crown Prosecution Service with a certificate under the 1952 Visiting Forces Act, which asserts jurisdiction - if granted, Hayes, who is on bail, could face a US military court.

Prosecutor Rachel Scott described it as a "very significant concession for any sovereign state to make to surrender jurisdiction."

RAF Lakenheath, where Mikayla Hayes works as an Airman. Picture: Emma Sword/PA
RAF Lakenheath, where Mikayla Hayes works as an Airman. Picture: Emma Sword/PA

Ms Scott argued that it is 'contrary to common sense to suggest that she (Hayes) was on duty at the time of the accident'.

The prosecutor told Westminster Magistrates’ Court the collision occurred after the defendant had finished for the day.

She said the servicewoman was not on duty, not completing a work-related task and was 'entirely in control of her time'.

Rejecting this, Andrew Cogan told the court his client had been in a military PT (physical training) uniform at the time and was still on duty and under orders as she travelled home.

He said her housing, despite the tenancy being in her and her husband’s name and being off the base, is 'part and parcel' of the base.

He added: "She is required to live at a place other than RAF Lakenheath and travelling daily to her place of work is, in my submission, clearly indicative of it being a duty activity."

Being dismissed from work that day 'necessarily imports the fact that she was on duty', he said, and under orders to go home.

He acknowledged that it is not correct to say she is on duty at all times – such as being on annual leave – but insisted she was on duty at the time of the crash.

Judge Ikram said he will give a written ruling at a later date.