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Driver who killed girlfriend in fatal A82 crash spared jail

By Ali Morrison

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Melina Rosa Päprer.
Melina Rosa Päprer.

A man who killed his girlfriend in a horror death crash during their first holiday together has been spared jail.

Gerrit Reickmann and Melina Rosa Paprer had travelled from Germany to visit castles in the Highlands.

The 30-year-old was behind the wheel of a hired Citreon C3 when he ended up on the wrong side of the road before smashing head on into a Honda CRV.

Melina (24) did not survive the collision on the A82 near Borlum Farm, Drumnadrochit on October 12, 2020.

Jurors heard how the couple had only been together five months at the time.

Reickmann had originally stood trial in Inverness accused of causing Melina's death by dangerous driving.

But, after two days of evidence, prosecutors accepted his guilty plea to a reduced charge.

He instead admitted causing the death by careless driving as well as seriously injuring the female driver in the other car.

Reickmann was today sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow.

He could have faced a maximum two-year jail term.

Lady Drummond said she would have instead imposed a community payback order as an alternative to custody.

But, the judge added there were difficulties in that as Reickmann continued to live in his homeland, where he is now married.

Lady Drummond told Reickmann: "Inquiries have been made and I understand that it is possible for you to carry out voluntary unpaid work in Germany.

"I am going to continue the case for a period of six months – that is so you can show the court and provide evidence that you have carried this out.

"What I would expect is a minimum of 300 hours. I would expect at the next calling that you can show that to the court."

Reickmann was ordered to return to the dock in October.

Jurors at the trial had watched footage of an injured Reickmann being interviewed by police while in his hospital bed.

He accepted responsibility for the tragedy.

Asked who was to blame – via an interpreter – he stated: "Him – because he was driving on the wrong side of the road."

Reickmann said he had hired the Citreon at Edinburgh Airport before the couple travelled north to visit different castles.

It was the first time he had driven in a foreign country after passing his test in 2018.

On the day of the crash, they had left their accommodation near Aberdeen to see Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness.

They were about to head back when Reickmann decided to turn the car around to visit the Falls of Foyers.

Reickmann forgot motorists drove on the left-hand side in the UK.

It was then that he ended up on the opposite side of the road for what he reckoned was up to 20 seconds before the fatal smash occurred.

He said his girlfriend had initially been checking her phone and then looked up and shouted his name moments prior to the collision.

The lawyer for Reickmann, of Munster in Germany, had previously described the incident as a "terrible tragedy" and that Melina's parents had not blamed him for what happened.

Jim Keegan KC, defending, today told the court: "Clearly this has had a devastating effect on a lot of people."

Sentencing, Lady Drummond said Reickmann will have to live with what happened for the rest of his life.

She told him: "I have read a victim impact statement from the father of Melina Paprer.

"He describes his unfathomable sadness at the loss of his daughter and the profound impact it has had on her brother too."

The judge added the woman Reickmann struck had also spoken of suffering "significant injury" after being hit.

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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