‘Extremely jealous’ Haywards Heath man carried shotgun through Burgess Hill

Police
Police

An ‘extremely jealous’ Haywards Heath man who intending to murder a love rival was caught with a shotgun over his shoulder in Burgess Hill.

Mark Thomas Styles, 20, was caught by police as he wandered down London Road, with the weapon.

He was miles from his home, but only 300 yards from that of his rival.

Styles had previously threatened his ex-girlfriend that he would kill a man she had a relationship with after their split.

In his defence, he claimed he was not intending to attack him, but instead had hoped he would be caught.

However, he was found guilty of making a death threat and having a gun with intent to commit murder and jailed for 12 years in May.

In an appeal, he argued that the sentence, passed at Lewes Crown Court, was too tough - and saw it cut to 10 years by senior judges.

Lord Justice Fulford, who rejected Styles’ appeal against conviction, said mitigation including his young age justified a shorter sentence.

‘Mark Styles is very young and although the end of his relationship cannot in any sense be described as provocation, it undoubtedly created a heightened and exceptional state of emotional turmoil for him,’ he said.

‘The offences were undoubtedly aggravated by the use of a loaded firearm and his proximity to his love rival’s home address.

‘Notwithstanding these worrying aggravating factors, this sentence failed to give sufficient weight to the very considerable mitigation that was available to this young offender.’

The Court of Appeal heard Styles had become ‘extremely jealous’ when he learned his ex had a relationship with another man.

A lengthy series of text messages between with his former girlfriend in December 2013 culminated in him threatening to kill the man.

He was caught in the early hours of the following day, as he walked with a double-barrel shotgun over his shoulder.

Appealing against his conviction, he complained about the way the trial judge directed the jury on how to consider the case.

Despite accepting there had been a ‘misdirection’, Lord Justice Fulford upheld the conviction, which he said was based on a ‘very strong case’.

The sentence was cut to 10 years, of which Styles will serve five before release on licence.

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