A TRUCK driver who caused the death of a veterinary student by travelling the wrong way along the A1 dual carriageway has been jailed.

Michael Friel, from Macmerry, ploughed into a car being driven by 26-year-old Meghan Ambrozevich-Blair on the A1 near Dunbar on December 9, 2016.

At the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and banned from driving for nine years and nine months.

Lord Arthurson told the court that had it not been for Friel's actions, the student would have been married last July and would have celebrated her 29th birthday last Wednesday.

Miss Ambrozevich-Blair, who was awarded a first-class honours degree posthumously by Edinburgh Napier University, "would by now have been well embarked upon her long-chosen and much cherished career path of veterinary nursing", the judge said.

He told Friel: "I do not think that for one moment the regret and remorse which you have expressed, which I accept is on your part wholly sincere, can begin to encompass or even grasp the overwhelming and enduring nature of the grief and pain that your actions have inflicted upon the family of Meghan Ambrozevich-Blair."

The judge said the victim impact documents he had received from the student's loved ones "are among the most eloquent and moving statements of this nature which I have required to read in the course of my entire judicial career".

Friel, 57, was driving a Transit tipper vehicle near Dunbar at about 7.45am when he performed a three-point turn on the westbound carriageway and proceeded to drive the wrong way back along the route towards the oncoming rush-hour traffic.

Despite several drivers flashing their lights and swerving to avoid him, he continued along the carriageway between the Spott and Thistly Cross roundabouts until he collided with the car being driven by Ms Ambrozevich-Blair on her way to work.

Friel pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at the High Court in Edinburgh on Janaury 14.

Prosecutors accepted that he was suffering from "an acute stress reaction" at the time of the crash.

Previously, the court had heard that Miss Ambrozevich-Blair had left her home at Haines Drive, Dunbar, on the dark morning to drive to her part-time job at Vets for Pets at Straiton retail park before the collision.

Friel had also set off for work from his sister's home in Dunbar in the Ford Transit tipper heading for Little Spott.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC said: "He joined the A1 [eastbound] and had almost reached Torness nuclear power station before realising he was travelling in the wrong direction for his destination."

He stopped and called his brother, who he worked for, and was told to return west to Spott Roundabout and wait for him at a supermarket.

Friel missed the turn at the roundabout and continued west on the A1 before realising that he had made a mistake.

He then pulled up and began making a three-point turn.

One driver negotiated a way past him and saw in his rearview mirror that the tipper was now being driven down the westbound carriageway in the wrong direction.

Mr Prentice said: "The accused drove in a [easterly] direction in the [westbound] carriageway. He encountered a number of vehicles travelling [west] at speed.

"The drivers in five vehicles had to take immediate action by swerving and flashing headlights to avoid colliding with the accused's vehicle.

"Two other drivers saw the accused's vehicle and flashed headlights to alert him to their presence."

Mr Prentice said: "Two drivers noticed the accused appeared to be oblivious to the danger presented and that he was staring straight ahead while driving."

He said that Miss Ambrozevich-Blair was not travelling at excessive speed but overtook another driver who heard a loud bang after she took a bend and came on the crash scene.

The prosecutor said a number of people stopped and tried to help. They could see Miss Ambrozevich-Blair was trapped in her Kia Cerato and appeared unresponsive.

An off-duty doctor started performing CPR on her and her fiancé, who had been walking the couple's dog nearby when he heard the collision, went to help the medic.

He also used another person's phone to call her parents and they went to the scene.

A firefighter spoke to Friel, who asked her: "When did this become a one-way?"

She said he was on the 'motorway' and that it had always been one-way. Friel replied: "It used to be two-way."

A breath test on Friel proved negative and he was taken to hospital for treatment to fractures he sustained in the crash.

Mr Prentice said that Miss Ambrozevich-Blair was in her fourth year at university at the time of her death and previously was awarded a medal as best HNC animal care student on graduating from an agricultural college in Dumfries.

He said: "A former pupil of Dunbar Grammar School, she regularly raised funds for the Scottish SPCA and campaigned against animal cruelty."

Ms Ambrozevich-Blair's family said their world had fallen apart the day she died.

A statement released on Friel's conviction said: "We lost an incredible daughter and sister, and her fiancé lost his soul mate and the family they planned to have.

"The suffering we have endured over the last two years since that day has been horrendous – we never thought it was possible to be in so much pain and still be alive."

The family said that every motorist bears a "huge responsibility" to drive safely and must be held accountable for their actions.

"Like so many other tragedies, Meghan lost her life in a crash that need not have happened," they said.

Sergeant Gary Taylor of the Road Policing Unit said: "This was a senseless and devastating loss of a young woman's life.

"Our thoughts remain with Meghan's family and friends who, I hope, now feel some sense of justice after more than two years of waiting.

"The consequences of dangerous driving have been shown to be catastrophic for all those affected. Meghan had everything ahead of her and the lives of her loved ones are forever changed.

"We will continue to work every day to try and keep road users safe and would urge the public to report any concerns about driver behaviour to Police Scotland on 101, always dialling 999 in an emergency."