'Not only has my best friend been killed but something inside me has also died too': Girlfriend's tribute to partner after fatal crash on A45

The girlfriend of a crash victim has paid tribute to her 'fiercely loyal' boyfriend who died when a suicidal driver drove into him.

Monday, 14th October 2019, 3:45 pm
Matthew Elson pictured on September 15, 2017 - the day he achieved his MICE (Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers).

Michael Szlek, 29, had not slept for nearly 24 hours and intended to kill himself when he pulled out of the single carriageway on the A45 between Flore and Upper Heyford at 7.15am on October 26, 2017.

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

At Szlek's sentencing on Friday, Matthew’s partner, Amy, described her boyfriend as “thoughtful, cheeky, polite” and “fiercely loyal to me and to those he loved".

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“I fell in love with Matt instantly,” she said. “Just relaxing at home with him was my happiest place in the world.

“We would often talk about who we would invite to our wedding, where we would have it, what we would call our children.

“Matt had a thirst for life and I was so unbelievably excited at the prospect of spending my life with such a wonderful man.

“Matt’s short life enriched the lives of so many people. He will be loved forever and my time with him will always be cherished as my favourite chapter.

“The day I saw Matt’s body in the mortuary is an image that will forever be ingrained in my mind.

“I am living a life sentence. Not only has my best friend been killed but something inside me has also died too.”

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

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

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.

The court heard 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.

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

But Judge Lucking rejected this claim after hearing psychiatric evidence.

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“As we have heard at court, Matthew Elson was a truly exceptional man. He was extremely well-thought of, not only by his family but also by his work colleagues.

“He had a great career, a great family-life, a bright future ahead with his partner, Amy, and so many things to look forward to.

“This has been a long and complex investigation and I am pleased we have got justice for Matthew’s family, though no sentence will ever make up for the loss of such a loved and universally well-regarded young man.”