Muzzo sentenced to 10 years
Drunk driver killed three kids and grandfather
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.
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.