Marco Muzzo 'severely underestimates' alcohol issues, parole decision cites
Published Tuesday, November 20, 2018 1:05PM EST Last Updated Tuesday, November 20, 2018 8:16PM EST
Imprisoned drunk driver Marco Muzzo “severely underestimates” his issues with alcohol and is unable to recognize that an “actual problem exists,” according to his newly-released parole decision.
Muzzo was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm in a deadly Sept. 2015 crash.
Nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, his five-year-old brother Harrison, their two-year-old sister Milly and their 65-year-old grandfather, Gary Neville, were killed when Muzzo blew through a stop sign and plowed into the family’s mini-van.
The children’s grandmother and great-grandmother were also seriously injured, but survived.
Wiping tears from his eyes, Muzzo stood in front of the board on Nov. 7 and expressed remorse for his actions. Muzzo vowed to never drink again and said his regret feels like a personal life-sentence.
The board later rejected his bid for both day and full parole, noting that the panel did not believe the 32-year-old had addressed his alcohol misuse.
“The Board is of the belief that you have sabotaged your progress while under sentence by severely underestimating your issues with alcohol,” the decision, released Tuesday, states.
“You have maintained from the very outset that you are not addicted to alcohol and while this may be true, your continued rigidity and lack of insight as to what that definition may mean has prevented you from recognizing that an actual problem exists.”
The decision pointed to Muzzo’s self-admitted history of binge drinking and his personal opinions on alcohol consumption as reasons why he requires continued intervention.
“Your contention (even at this late date), that you believe eight or nine drinks would be required to make you impaired, speaks volume in this regard,” the board wrote. “Finally, your admissions that you do not know what your triggers or risk factors are when it comes to alcohol abuse or misuse, reflect the very real need for programming.”
As part of the decision, the board combed through the facts related to his case, including how police officers reported his condition when they arrived at the crash scene.
The board said Muzzo contests that he was shocked by his alcohol readings of 190 milligrams and 204 milligrams, and maintains that he did not believe he was as intoxicated as the readings.
“While you now accept that you were impaired at the time of the collision,” the decision reads, “you continue to minimize the severity by indicating that many of your behaviours and responses were the result of shock as much as they were due to alcohol consumption.”
The board did indicate Muzzo had a “stellar work history,” work ethic and close relationship with his family and fiancé.
If he had been granted parole, Muzzo had planned to stay with his fiancé at their home and work at his company’s head office – getting rides to and from work from friends and colleagues.
The board noted that accounts from Muzzo’s family were consistent with his claim that he was merely a “social drinker” who usually consumed about six to eight glasses of wine per week, typically in the company of family, friends or business associates.
But, upon reviewing his responses to the Computerized Assessment for Substance Abuse, the board said they believed Muzzo was “underestimating the seriousness” of his alcohol issue.
Muzzo’s statements during his parole hearing about his drinking patterns were, at times, “contrary to file information,” the board said.
“We learned today, you tended to drink to excess, or in your words, ‘get wasted’ on your birthdays, and that while you have never blacked out, you have been significantly drunk on more than 10 but less than 20 occasions,” the decision reads.
“You report that there were times you were embarrassed or regretted your behaviours and decisions while under the influence of alcohol.”
That minimization was also perceived in his admission to driving impaired in the past.
The board said Muzzo suggested he had driven under the influence of alcohol only “a small handful of times.”
“In any event, in our view, it was clear you lack insight into the volume and frequency of your drinking and the risk it poses for you and others,” the decision reads.
Jennifer Neville-Lake, who lost her children and father in that 2015 crash, made it clear at the Nov. 7 parole hearing that she does not believe Muzzo has fully accepted the gravity of his decisions.
She said Muzzo’s “claims of remorse ring hollow.”
“I’ve always kind of felt that was something he was told to say,” she said.
The board felt otherwise, and described Muzzo’s remorse as genuine, saying that he appeared to understand the pain he caused.
That notion, however, was not enough for the board to approve his parole.
“The Board must remain mindful that your ill-considered and selfish decisions led to the needless death of four innocent people,” they wrote.
“It is evident that these events, have forever altered the lives of the surviving family members. The senseless deaths of a grandfather and his three grandchildren shocked the community and the remaining family has been left to struggle with the consequences of your criminal offending.”
Muzzo has six months to appeal the parole board’s decision. He will be eligible to reapply in one year.
Read the Parole Board of Canada's full decision below: