Muzzo sen­tenced to 10 years

Drunk driver killed three kids and grand­fa­ther

Cape Breton Post - - CANADA -

A drunk driver who killed three chil­dren and their grand­fa­ther in a hor­rific crash north of Toronto was sen­tenced to 10 years in prison Tues­day af­ter a judge said Marco Muzzo must be held ac­count­able for the ir­re­versible suf­fer­ing he’s caused.

Muzzo, 29, had al­ready ac­crued a lengthy record of driv­ing in­frac­tions — many of them for speed­ing — when he made the fate­ful de­ci­sion to drink and drive af­ter re­turn­ing home from a trip to Mi­ami last Septem­ber, said Su­pe­rior Court Jus­tice Michelle Fuerst.

And while he has shown gen­uine re­morse for his ac­tions, “the high de­gree of Mr. Muzzo’s moral blame­wor­thi­ness, com­bined with the enor­mous and far-reach­ing con­se­quences of his of­fences, set this case apart from oth­ers,’’ she said.

“Notwith­stand­ing the many pos­i­tive as­pects of Mr. Muzzo’s back­ground and char­ac­ter... a lengthy penitentiary term is nec­es­sary,’’ in part to de­ter oth­ers from tak­ing the same dan­ger­ous risk, Fuerst added.

Muzzo glanced quickly at his fam­ily in the front row of the court­room in New­mar­ket, Ont., as he was led away in hand­cuffs. His mother wiped her eyes while the chil­dren’s mother, Jen­nifer Neville-Lake, sobbed qui­etly in a cor­ner as oth­ers gath­ered around her.

Nine-year-old Daniel Neville-- Lake, his five-year-old brother Har­ri­son, their two-year-old sis­ter Milly and the chil­dren’s 65-year-old grand­fa­ther, Gary Neville, died af­ter the van they were in was hit by a speed­ing SUV driven by Muzzo.

Out­side the court­house fol­low­ing the sen­tenc­ing, Jen­nifer Neville-Lake said her fam­ily is a tragic re­minder of the con­se­quences of drink­ing and driv­ing. “Please, keep in mind: when you choose to drink and drive, you’re hurt­ing other fam­i­lies, you’re killing some­one else’s ba­bies, like mine were killed,’’ she said.

“All of mine were killed on a beau­ti­ful Sun­day af­ter­noon just af­ter 4 o’clock. Please don’t do that.’’

She re­called hold­ing Milly and Har­ri­son close in their last mo­ments and showed a photo of the two chil­dren hold­ing hands in their hospital beds.

“That’s Milly and Harry. They joined their hands to­gether. They pushed their beds to­gether; I de­cided I had to turn the ma­chines off so Milly’s heart wouldn’t ex­plode. I couldn’t pick which baby to turn off the ma­chines first,’’ she said, her voice crack­ing.

“Ed­ward and I crawled into bed with them,’’ she said. “We put our hands on top of theirs so that ... just like we were with them when they were born, we were with both of them when they died. They died hugged by us in bed sur­rounded by all the fam­ily and friends that sang to them ‘ Some­where Over the Rain­bow’ as we turned off the ma­chines.’’

Muzzo, who had pleaded guilty to four counts of im­paired driv­ing caus­ing death and two of im­paired driv­ing caus­ing bod­ily harm, will serve nine years and four months af­ter credit for time served. He could be el­i­gi­ble for pa­role af­ter a third of his sen­tence, and for day pa­role six months be­fore then.

He also faces a 12-year driv­ing ban, which will take ef­fect on his re­lease from cus­tody.

No mat­ter the length of sen­tence, Muzzo will even­tu­ally be re­leased and go back to nor­mal life, but the vic­tims’ fam­ily won’t, Fuerst said.

The Neville-Lakes “will con­tinue to serve the form of life sen­tence that Mr. Muzzo in­flicted on them by his de­ci­sion to drink and drive,’’ Fuerst said.

“Any loss of life caused by an im­paired driver is tragic. In this case, how­ever, the enor­mous harm caused by Mr. Muzzo is ex­tra­or­di­nary,’’ she said in de­liv­er­ing the sen­tence. “In one fell swoop, he dec­i­mated an en­tire gen­er­a­tion of the Neville- Lake fam­ily, its legacy and its fu­ture.’’

That he had ac­cu­mu­lated 10 speed­ing con­vic­tions in pre­vi­ous years “in­di­cates an ir­re­spon­si­ble at­ti­tude to­wards the priv­i­lege of driv­ing,’’ she said, not­ing he was speed­ing at the time of the crash.

CP PHOTO

Jen­nifer Neville-Lake cries as she shows pho­to­graphs of her three chil­dren and fa­ther who were killed in a hor­rific crash by drunk driver Marco Muzzo at the court­house in New­mar­ket, Ont., on Tues­day.

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