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Judge jails wrong-way crash driver indefinitely

The Local · 3 Feb 2012, 07:33

Published: 03 Feb 2012 07:33 GMT+01:00

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A 35-year-old man who deliberately drove the wrong way down a south German motorway and crashed head-on into a car, killing one person has been jailed for 12 years but may be held indefinitely under preventative detention rules.

The man, who has serious psychiatric problems, and an associated criminal history, told the court in Tübingen he had felt completely disoriented on April 10 last year and was scared he was being chased by Hells Angels before he suddenly realised he was driving the wrong way down the road.

Travelling at 150 kilometres an hour on the motorway between Reutlingen and Stuttgart, he smashed into a car carrying a 43-year-old man, his wife and their 11-year-old daughter. The man was killed instantly; his wife and daughter were left seriously injured.

The 35-year-old, who was himself also injured in the crash, denied wanting to kill himself, but a court expert convinced the judge that he was scared his girlfriend was going to leave him, and that he wanted to die – and accepted the risk of killing other people by choosing to do it this way.

Sentencing him to 12 years, with a preventative detention ruling which means he would be held for psychiatric treatment even after he completes his sentence, the judge said, “This is certainly a harsh verdict from your perspective. But you have incurred much guilt.”

He said the family he hit in the car had been destroyed by the accident. A psychiatric expert witness said it was doubtful that the man could ever be made healthy enough to be released.

There are around 1,700 incidents of wrong-way driving each year, many of which result in crashes, according to government figures.

Much of the time they are due to disoriented and confused drivers making mistakes – or those who have missed an exit deciding to risk simply deciding to turn around to try to save time.

Story continues below…

The Local/DPA/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:56 February 3, 2012 by auniquecorn
A total shame, the guy definitely needs help. I don´t think locking him up will help him with his problems.
13:10 February 3, 2012 by Gaffers
Maybe not but it will protect others. One death is too many and the risk is not worth it. Sometimes it isn't about solving the problems but taking care of others instead.

What I find incredible is the extent of these incidents of people driving the wrong way down motorways. You hear EVERY day on the radio about this happening. In the UK it is almost unheard of. Can anyone explain why? Are the drivers that bad or that dumb here? I doubt it very much but what other explanation is there?
13:27 February 3, 2012 by bugger
I have no background info abour this case, but if Bavarian police and Bavarian state prosecutors and judges are involved I would be seriously alarmed. They bend the laws until the outcome suits their personal goals.
14:46 February 3, 2012 by raandy
This person is a definite threat to society. Hopefully this will sent a clear message to any other nimrods out there.
16:09 February 3, 2012 by 1TruthTeller
"1,700 incidents of wrong-way driving each year?" I'd say that we either have a signage problem, a driver's-education problem, or a basic language problem. Don't kids learn left from right in kindergarten?
17:47 February 3, 2012 by Englishted

The road signals in German are in general misleading (the yellow square on its head) and I can understand the mistakes that sometimes happen .

But this chap is not "normal" and as some commenters have said in need of help ,it is a shame he was not found out before he killed .

Not much consolation for the victims family sadly.
18:57 February 3, 2012 by Illogicbuster
auniquecorn, unless YOU are willing to guarantee and indemnify future victims, I really don't think you have a leg to stand on...
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