Marco Muzzo's sentence to be given out Tuesday
Marco Muzzo, right, arrives with family at the court house for his sentencing hearing in Newmarket, Ont., on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Monday, March 28, 2016 10:34PM EDT
Marco Muzzo will learn his sentence on Tuesday after pleading guilty to six impaired driving charges in relation to a deadly crash that left four people dead in Vaughan, Ont., last September.
Nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, his five-year-old brother Harrison, their two-year-old sister Milly and their 65-year-old grandfather died after the minivan they were in was struck by an SUV.
The children's grandmother and great-grandmother were also seriously injured in the crash.
Muzzo, whose blood-alcohol level was as much as three times the legal limit, pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm last month.
The Crown recommended a sentence of 10 to 12 years in prison, and a driving ban of eight to 12 years following the prison sentence.
Meanwhile, Muzzo's lawyer is pushing for eight years in prison, less time already served in police custody prior to the sentence.
In an appearance on CTV News Channel on Monday, criminal defence lawyer Jacob Jesin said Muzzo will likely be given a 10-year sentence.
"The range is very small: the Crown asked for 10 to 12 years; his lawyer, Brian Greenspan, asked for about eight years," said Jesin.
"You're probably looking at about nine to 10 years. That would be most people's prediction, I would say, and then there's going to be a driving prohibition as well."
Jesin said Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst will go through the mitigating and aggravating circumstances to determine the sentence.
He pointed to Muzzo's lack of a criminal record, accounts from character witnesses -- including Muzzo's priest and his uncle -- which positively described his character, as well as a psychiatrist's report that describes him as remorseful, as factors that could help his case.
"It looks as if there is significant remorse," said Jesin.
Jesin said the aggravating factors are the fact that Muzzo had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit and that the crash resulted in four deaths.
Muzzo, who had not previously spoken publicly about the crash, told the court last month that he felt "great remorse" about the incident. He also acknowledged that his words were likely of no consolation, but wanted to apologize "from the bottom of my heart."
"I'm at a loss of words," he said, addressing the court.
"I wish that I could give back your family that I have taken."
Muzzai added that he prays every day for the Neville-Lake family, and he plans to spend the rest of his life "trying to atone" for his actions.
"I will be forever haunted by what I've done. I am truly sorry," he said.
When Muzzo took the stand, the mother of the children who died in the crash, Jennifer Neville-Lake and her husband Edward Lake, left the courtroom.
"I knew I did not want to hear anything he had to say," Neville-Lake told reporters gathered outside.
"Forgiveness is ... not like a piece of clothing you can put on. It's a process."
Jesin said it will likely be hard for people to accept Muzzo's sentence, in light of the fact that the crash resulted in the death of four people. He said the law focuses on intent, as well as the act and the consequences.
"It is not the same as if someone went out with a gun and shot four people, according to the law we have in this country," said Jesin.
"And it is unfortunate, an enormous tragedy -- one of unspeakable consequence -- but still it not the same, and that will be taken into account in the sentencing process."
Last month, Neville-Lake acknowledge that the Crown is asking for the "highest ever" sentence in a case with multiple fatalities, but said that pales in comparison to what she has lost.
She said she thinks of the possible sentence in terms of how older children would be at its end. If Muzzo were to get out of prison in two and a half years, her daughter Milly would have been starting school, she said.
"He chose to do his part, and I'm living the consequences," Neville-Lake said.
"Every single thing is gone because someone decided to drink and drive."
Crown attorney Paul Tait said he hopes Muzzo's sentence could serve as a warning to others who consider drinking and driving. However, Jesin is skeptical about the ruling's potential effectiveness as a deterrent.
"My personal view is that they don’t (work) unfortunately," he said.
"Drunk driving is by the nature of it is an offence of lack of judgement, so I think it is hard for people in that situation to get the message … and there's certainly got to be other ways to deal with it."