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'Life-altering' Ross-shire A890 smash leads to £6350 fine and 16-month ban

By Ali Morrison

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Sheriff Gary Aitken said: ‘It is a matter of pure luck that the consequences were not fatal.’
Sheriff Gary Aitken said: ‘It is a matter of pure luck that the consequences were not fatal.’

A SWISS Health and Safety Inspector drove his camper van dangerously on the wrong side of a Ross-shire road and caused "life-altering" injuries to another motorist.

The head-on collision occurred in July 30 last year on the A890 Auchtertyre to Garve road when 36-year-old Lucas Jaquier from Geneva had his three children with him.

His four-year-old son also suffered serious neck injuries and had to be placed in an induced coma for five days. But the other motorist, Sarah Archer, incurred multiple fractures and other injuries, confining her to a wheelchair for five months.

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Jaquier appeared at Inverness Sheriff Court and admitted a charge of driving dangerously on the wrong side of the road, failed to see the oncoming Vauxhall Mokka or take evasive action while his children were in his vehicle and caused severe injury, permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment to Miss Archer.

He was punished by one of the highest sums ever imposed when Sheriff Gary Aitken fined him £6350 and banned him from driving in the UK for 16 months.

The sheriff told Jaquier it was "a significant lapse and the consequences have been very grave for Miss Archer and your child. For Miss Archer they have been life-altering. It is a matter of pure luck that the consequences were not fatal.

"I have no doubt that you will all have to live with those consequences for the rest of your life. Sadly there is nothing I can do which can wind back time and relieve Ms Archer and your child the consequences of your action."

Fiscal depute Emily Hood told the court: "As he completed a right-hand turn, he remained there. The collision was fully on the northbound lane – the right hand side of the road for the accused.

"He had minor cuts, bruises and a broken toe. He told police: 'It was a bad reflex. Both vehicles were driving in the middle of the road because there were no road markings.

"Because of habit, I pulled my wheel to the right and so did the other vehicle because I am used to driving on the other side of the road.' Ms Archer was wheelchair bound for five months due to knee injuries and multiple surgeries. She has only recently started driving again."

Ms Hood added that Ms Archer also broke both her wrists and required metal rods inserted which resulted in her struggling to use her hands. She also sustained broken and dislocated fingers and toes.

Defending, Patrick O'Dea said: "He has a great deal of remorse for what happened and will feel the guilt for a long time to come. His four-year-old son was seriously injured, and was in an induced coma for five days after breaking bones in his neck.

"He can only explain this as a momentary loss of concentration and he extends his very sincere apologies. I read the victim impact statement from Miss Archer to him and he was moved by the change of lifestyle for her."

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