'None of my children saw 10 years': Mother reacts to Muzzo sentence
Published Tuesday, March 29, 2016 5:15AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 29, 2016 3:25PM EDT
The mother of three children killed in a drunk-driving crash spoke tearfully about Marco Muzzo's "choice" to drink and drive, after he was sentenced to 10 years.
A tearful Jennifer Neville-Lake showed reporters a booklet filled with photos of her children on Tuesday. "These were my consequences," Neville-Lake said outside the courthouse, after Muzzo was sentenced to 10 years minus time served, to be followed by a 12-year driving ban.
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Neville-Lake's children, nine-year-old Daniel, five-year-old Harrison and two-year-old Milly, were killed or fatally injured in the collision on Sept. 27. The children's grandfather, 65-year-old Gary Neville, also died in the collision, while two others were seriously injured.
Muzzo, who was impaired at the time, ran a stop sign and slammed into the family's minivan with his Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Jennifer Neville-Lake's booklet included photos from her parents' wedding, her own wedding, and various moments with her children. Neville-Lake paused on one of the final photos, which showed two small hands clasped over a hospital bed.
The photo was taken in Milly and Harrison's last moments in the hospital, just before their life support systems were switched off, Neville-Lake said. The children's beds were pushed together, and Neville-Lake and her husband climbed into the beds to hold their kids as they died.
"Just like we were there with them when they were born, we were there with both of them when they died," Neville-Lake said outside the courthouse.
"People need to see," she added. "When you choose to drink and drive, you're hurting other families. You're killing someone else's babies, like mine were killed."
Another photo in the booklet showed three small urns.
The booklet also included Muzzo's name, with most of the letters censored out. "His sentence is 10 years, and none of my children saw 10 years," Neville-Lake said, explaining that she refuses to say his name.
After the decision was handed down Tuesday, defence lawyer Brian Greenspan told reporters that Muzzo has always accepted full responsibility for his actions, and that he now "fully accepts" Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst's ruling.
"That's within the range of acceptable sentence," Greenspan said outside the courthouse.
Muzzo, 29, pleaded guilty in February to impaired driving causing the deaths of three children and their grandfather, near Kleinburg, Ont.
Fuerst sentenced Muzzo to 10 years for the deaths and five years for causing the injuries, to be served concurrently. Muzzo received eight months' credit for pre-custody time spent in jail, knocking his sentence down to nine years and four months.
He is also prohibited from driving for 12 years, upon his release from custody.
Muzzo had been driving from Toronto's Pearson International Airport to his home in Vaughan, after returning from a bachelor party in Miami.
A breathalyzer test at the scene showed his blood alcohol level was between two and three times the legal amount.
Muzzo will be eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence. The driving ban will begin once he is released from custody, Greenspan said.
In her court decision, Fuerst cited a number of factors in reaching the sentence of 10 years. She said Muzzo chose to drink and drive, and pointed out that he was driving too fast when he blew through a stop sign and collided with the Neville family's van. She also spoke of the "monumental" impact that the death of three children has had on the Neville-Lake family.
Fruest also cited several mitigating factors, including Muzzo's decision to plead guilty "at a very early stage," his lack of a previous criminal record, and the strong support shown by friends and family members, 92 of whom submitted letters of support on his behalf. Additionally, she said Muzzo showed no evidence of mental disturbance or alcohol abuse.
With files from The Canadian Press
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