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United Kingdom

Suicidal driver, 29, is jailed for deliberate attempt to cause a crash

A suicidal driver who killed a 26-year-old man when trying to end his life by smashign into oncoming traffic has been jailed for more than eight years.

The high-speed crash killed 'much loved' Matthew Elson - but not Michael Szlek, 29, who was trying to die.

Szlek had not slept for nearly 24 hours and intended to kill himself when he pulled out of his lane on a stretch of single carriageway on the A45 at 7.15am on October 26, 2017.

Tragically, the first car he hit was a Ford Focus driven by Matthew Elson, 26, who was just five minutes away from arriving at his office for work that morning.

Matthew Elson, 26, was killed by Michael Szlek, who had pulled out of his lane on a piece of single carriageway on the A45 straight into the path of the commuter

Witnesses described how the engine of Szlek's BMW 'screamed' as he accelerated into the approaching cars in a deliberate attempt to cause a collision.

In a series of victim statements, Northampton Crown Court heard how Matthew's death two years ago has 'shattered' the lives of his heartbroken family and partner.

In a statement read out in court, his mum Jayne Elson said: 'I always used to worry about his driving to work. But he always used to say "Mum, it won't be me; and if my number is up, my number is up".

'Our family's lives have been totally shattered. I find it hard to believe he is no longer with us. Even now, two years after his death, I still expect him to walk through the front gate.

'He had already achieved so much in his short life. We were so very proud of him.'

Matthew, a keen cricketer who owned a home with his partner Amy in Staffordshire, was a first-class student in engineering who worked for Balfour Beatty as part of ongoing work on the A45.

Matthew was described in court as a 'cheeky, sociable, thoughtful' friend, son and partner, and his cricket team dedicated a plaque to him underneath the scoreboard at Winshill Cricket Club

He was on track to become a director and the company has pledged to name a bridge on the West Coast Main Line after him, the court heard.

In a statement, his partner Amy said: 'What made me proud to be Matthew's partner was the person he was. He was cheeky, sociable, thoughtful and fiercely loyal to both me and his friends.

'The time I spent with Matthew in our home will be the most cherished 15 months of my life.

'Matt, your short life enriched the lives of so many people and you will be loved forever.'

Although he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, earlier this year Szlek tried to convince Judge Adrienne Lucking that he was suffering from a dissociative episode at the time of the crash.

130 people attended a cricket match in Matthew's honour in June 2018, with £900 raised on the day which went to causes such as road safety charity, Brake, and Winshill Cricket Club, the team he played for

But Judge Lucking rejected this claim after hearing psychiatric evidence.

'You were well aware of what you were doing,' the judge told Szlek in sentencing.

'You pulled out into oncoming traffic with the intent of causing a serious collision with the intent of killing yourself.

'And there was a collision. And you hit Matthew Elson's car, pushing his car backwards and killing him instantly.

'It's clear that Matthew was a much-loved young man. His life and the loss of it has left a devastating hole in the lives of his family and the heart of his girlfriend. Their loss can never be mended by any sentence I can impose.'

Szlek was jailed for eight years and one month, and will be disqualified from driving for five years upon his release.

Roughly 130 people attended a cricket match in Matthew's honour in June 2018, with £900 raised on the day which went to causes such as road safety charity, Brake, and Winshill Cricket Club, the team he played for.

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