Life sentences handed out in murder-for-hire

A Berlin judge on Thursday sentenced four people to life sentences in a sordid conspiracy murder case in which a pizza delivery driver was paid €500 to kill a young woman for her life insurance.

A fifth person, had been sentenced to 14 years in prison last year in the murder of Christin R., a 21-year-old stable girl from Reinickendorf in northern Berlin.

She had been found strangled to death in a parking lot in June 2012. Shortly after, police uncovered the conspiracy murder plot that started with Christin's ex-boyfriend and his mother.

Courts heard how the mother-son duo had taken out life insurance policies without Christin's knowledge to the tune of €2.4 million and named themselves the beneficiaries. The plan was to then murder Christin and buy a stables for themselves with the money.

However, Christin survived the first two attempts on her life, a stabbing and a poisoning.

The son then told courts that they were carried out by the woman he was having an affair with. He claimed that he was not behind the murder plot because he had been 80 kilometres away at the time of the murder.

The secret lover, though, said that he had told her they could be together if the ex-girlfriend were out of the way, so after failing to poison Christin R., she enlisted the help of her younger brother.

Clockwise from top left: The ex-boyfriend, the mother, the lover, the brother. Photos: DPA

It was the younger brother who found the pizza delivery driver turned killer-for-hire. For €500, he strangled Christin R. in the parking lot of the swimming pool in Lübars, leaving her body to be discovered the next day.

The ex-boyfriend, the mother, the lover and the brother, as well as the killer were arrested the following day after police connected all five of them to one another through mobile phone messages.

Last year, the lover already confessed to her part of the plot, gaining her a reduced sentence in exchange for testifying against her co-conspirators.

In the end, the judge found that the boyfriend and his mother were indeed involved, and in his sentencing, noted that they were the most responsible in Christin R.'s death.  

"A group of unremarkable people who assembled with the treacherous goal of murdering (Christin R.), with an unconditional will to destroy regardless of previous attempts on her life," said Judge Ralph Ehestädt.

In Germany, a life sentence means that at least 15 years must be served in prison before any possibility of parole being granted. 

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Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

READ ALSO: The German rules of the road that are hard to get your head around

In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

READ ALSO: The German road signs that confuse foreigners