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Muzzo sentenced to 10 years for a 'tragedy beyond comprehension,' judge says
Published Tuesday, March 29, 2016 5:37AM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, March 29, 2016 5:00PM EDT
Marco Muzzo has been sentenced to 10 years in connection with a drunk driving crash in Vaughan that killed three children and their grandfather in September.
The 29-year-old man has also been given a 12-year driving prohbition and will have credit for time already served put toward his sentence.
Muzzo was sentenced in a Newmarket court today, nearly two months after pleading guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.
The Crown had asked Justice Michelle Fuerst for a sentence in the range of 10 to 12 years, while defence lawyer Brian Greenspan asked the judge for a sentence of eight years.
After the sentence was handed down, Greenspan told reporters that Muzzo "fully accepts" the judge's decision and called the punishment "within the range of acceptable sentences."
Muzzo, who was weeks away from getting married when the crash happened, will be eligible for full parole upon completion of one-third of his sentence. He will be eligible for day parole six months prior to that.
The driving ban will begin once Muzzo is released from custody.
Nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, his five-year-old brother Harrison and their two-year-old sister Milly were killed in the Sept. 27 crash, along with their 65-year-old maternal grandfather, Gary Neville.
According to an agreed statement of facts, a private jet carrying Muzzo from his bachelor trip in Miami landed at Pearson International Airport. He cleared customs, and got behind the wheel of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, heading to his home in Vaughan.
Muzzo slammed into a minivan carrying the Neville-Lake family at Kirby Road and Kipling Avenue in Kleinburg, a village in the city of Vaughan.
Breath samples taken from Muzzo two hours after he was arrested indicated he had a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal Ontario limit.
An officer at the scene of the collision reported that Muzzo “was unsteady on his feet, he had glossy eyes, he attempted to use people to use his balance, he urinated himself, he was having a difficult time comprehending direction and he had the smell of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath.”
When reading her decision in court Justice Fuerst called the crash a "tragedy beyond comprehension" and noted the "monumental impact" it had on the Neville-Lake family.
"Happy, positive people have been robbed of their reason for being," she said.
Mom asks public for 'postive vibes'
Jennifer Neville-Lake, who lost her only three children and her father in the crash, took to social media Tuesday morning ahead of the sentencing and asked the public to "drop positive vibes" for her family.
"We will be learning the sentence of #drunkdrivermarcomuzzo who killed or harmed everyone in this photo," wrote Jennifer Neville-Lake in a caption accompanying a photo of the victims.
After the sentencing, she choked back tears as she spoke to reporters and noted how her young son was months away from turning 10 when he was killed.
"Ten years," she said of the sentence. "All I can keep thinking in my head is that my son never made it to 10 years."
Holding up a book of photos of her family, including one where her two children held hands as they died in hospital, and another of three urns holding the ashes of her loved ones, Neville-Lake told reporters that Muzzo had a choice the day he decided to drive drunk.
"When you choose to drink and drive, you are killing someone's babies," she said tearfully. "All of mine were killed on a Sunday afternoon."
Like she has throughout most of the court appearances, Neville-Lake wore a colourful hat Tuesday, one that her son had asked her to wear when he was still alive.
Muzzo blinked back tears in court after his sentence was handed down. He turned to his family from inside the prisoner's box with his face red and tears in his eyes.
More than 90 character references submitted in court on his behalf spoke about a man who was hard working, humble despite his personal wealth, and who always looked out for his mother and sisters after his father died.
The last time he was in court, on Feb. 24, Muzzo spoke publicly for the first time and said he was “haunted” by the deaths he caused.
“I stand here before you today with great remorse, sympathy and unimaginable regret,” he said. “As I listened with horror yesterday to the details of the catastrophic consequences of my actions, I knew that my words would be of no consolation. Ever since the tragedy that occurred as a result of my inexcusable conduct, I have wanted to say that I am sorry and apologize to your family from the bottom of my heart.”
“I am at a loss for words and I am on a constant search for the right way to express to you my sorrow. I know that there are no actions that can ever change what has happened. I know that there is no step that I can take to bring back your children Daniel, Harrison and Millie Neville Lake and your father Gary Neville – I pray that I could – but I cannot.”
“I could never have imagined the degree of suffering and pain I have caused,” he said. “If I could reverse the hands of time, I would without hesitation. I want nothing more than to attempt to bring some peace to your hearts and mind.”
However, Neville-Lake and her husband Edward Lake got up from their seats and left the courtroom when he spoke, refusing to hear what he had to say about the ordeal.
Neville-Lake later told reporters she didn’t want to hear a word from the man who was responsible for the deaths of all of her children.