Judge jails wrong-way crash driver indefinitely

Judge jails wrong-way crash driver indefinitely
Photo: DPA

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.

The Local/DPA/mdm

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German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.