Drink-driver jailed after crash leaves two women injured

Matthew Styler
Matthew Styler

Cross-county thief facing six and a half years in jail

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A DRINK-DRIVER who left two friends with severe injuries after ploughing his car into them has been jailed for five and a half years.

Former soldier Matthew Styler, of Monks Way, Elson, Gosport, admitted hitting Kirsty Searle, 19, and Holly Burns, 20, in Stoke Road following a night out on July 2 last year.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how Styler, who was driving a Vauxhall Corsa, failed to stop.

He set fire to the car four miles away in a desperate attempt to cover it up.

The 36-year-old went home and put his clothes – including boots, sunglasses and a leather belt – into the washing machine.

Harrowing CCTV footage of the incident, which shows the victims being flung high into the air, was played to the court.

Miss Burns suffered a broken tibia and fibula on her left leg, two broken ribs, a punctured diaphragm, a bleed on the spleen, whiplash and a small facial fracture.

Miss Searle was left with a fracture, grazes and damage to her lower left leg.

Prosecuting Daniel Sawyer said Miss Burns suffered complications to her injuries and underwent further surgery.

He said how Styler told officers he had consumed a ‘ridiculous amount of alcohol’ on the night of the crash.

He was driving between 56-58 miles per hour in a 30-mile-an-hour zone on impact.

Mr Sawyer said: ‘Various witnesses described the car as going very fast and ploughed into the girls like skittles.

‘Holly was seen flying through the air and various witnesses said they thought she was dead.’

Defending, Daniel Riley said Styler suffered a gunshot wound in Afghanistan during a tour in 2010, which led to the diagnosis of post traumatic stress syndrome following his arrest.

He said: ‘He’s someone who is totally and deeply sorry for his actions and the harm he’s caused, and the effect that it will have beyond today.’

Sentencing Styler, judge Sarah Munro referred to the defence’s claim.

‘It was nothing to do with post traumatic stress that led you to get into the driving seat,’ she said.

‘The reports I have read make it clear that sober you are very sorry for what you did and accept that you deserve a lengthy sentence.

‘But your efforts to try and get out of being caught were significant.’