24-year-old Mikayla Hayes leaving court (Picture: PA/ Alamy Stock Images).
24-year-old Mikayla Hayes leaving court (Picture: PA/ Alamy Stock Images).
USA

US airwoman from RAF Lakenheath charged over motorcyclist's death to be tried in UK

24-year-old Mikayla Hayes leaving court (Picture: PA/ Alamy Stock Images).
24-year-old Mikayla Hayes leaving court (Picture: PA/ Alamy Stock Images).

A judge has ruled that a United States servicewoman accused of killing a motorcyclist by careless driving can be tried in a UK court.

Father-of-one Matthew Day, 33, died of his injuries after a red Honda Accord collided with the Yamaha motorbike he was riding on the A10 in Southery, near Downham Market, Norfolk, on 26 August.

Deputy senior district judge Tan Ikram ruled at Westminster Magistrates' Court that the motorist, 24-year-old Mikayla Hayes, will be tried in the UK courts for allegedly causing death by careless driving.

Judge Ikram had been considering whether to grant Hayes, an Airman First Class, a trial in a US military court as she had requested, or to allow the UK courts to deal with her case as argued by prosecutors.

Barrister Andrew Cogan had said his client should be tried in the US because the collision happened while she was on duty.

He argued that this was the case because Hayes had been wearing uniform as she made the 30-minute journey from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk to her home accommodation, which is paid for by her employer.

The US Air Force (USAF) had served the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) with a certificate under the 1952 Visiting Forces Act, which asserts jurisdiction.

Judge Ikram overruled this argument on Wednesday, instead agreeing with prosecutor Rachel Scott, who said that Hayes was no longer on duty while driving home.

He said: "The contents of the US Air Force certificate is rebutted.

"This court must now move on to the next stage of proceedings."

Outlining his decision, the judge said: "There is no additional payment for the journey home.

"There is no evidence the fuel for her journey was paid for by the US Air Force. She paid for the fuel herself.

"While I note that her accommodation was paid for by the US Air Force, I do not find that a factor as to whether she was on duty.

"She was simply travelling home after a day at work.

"The prosecution has persuaded me that this falls within the bounds of a normal case.

"When you consider all the circumstances, the particular journey and the collision after did not arise out of or in the course of duty."

Hayes elected to be tried by a jury at Crown Court and entered a not guilty plea following the ruling.

She will next appear at Norwich Crown Court on 21 December.