Jennifer Neville-Lake, centre, mother to Harry, Millie, Daniel, and daughter to Gary Neville, all killed in a collision with convicted drunk driver Marco Muzzo, speaks following his parole denial.

Jennifer Neville-Lake still listens for her children but all she is met with is silence.

Convicted drunk driver Marco Muzzo was denied both day and full parole at a hearing held at Gravenhurst’s Beaver Creek Institution on Tuesday, Nov. 7 after spending 38 months in jail, or one-third of his 10-year sentence. The then-29-year-old drove his speeding SUV through a stop sign and into the Neville-Lake family’s van in Sept. 2015. Breath samples revealed he had a blood-alcohol concentration of close to three times the legal limit.

Killed were siblings Daniel Neville-Lake, nine, Harrison Neville-Lake, five, Millie Neville-Lake, two, and the children’s 65-year-old grandfather Gary Neville in a drunk driving crash in Sept. 2017. Muzzo was eligible for day parole on Nov. 9, 2018 and full parole on May 9, 2019.

Pictured above are Daniel Neville-Lake, 9 (right) and siblings Harrison, 5 (left), Milly, 2 (centre, killed in September 2015, along with their 65-year-old grandfather Gary Neville, when a car driven by now convicted drunk driver Marco Muzzo crashed into their van on a Vaughan road.

The parole hearing board heard from three of the victims during the three-hour hearing, including the children’s parents, Jennifer Neville-Lake, Edward Lake and their aunt Josephine Neville.

In his statement, read in by an unidentified man, Edward described the van as a “twisted piece of metal” once it came to a rest in a nearby ditch after becoming airborne. Edward said the impact was so great; two of his children suffered twisted brain stems, while his eldest suffered internal decapitation and died immediately. 

“Did he hear my children scream? Did he think of anyone but himself?” he asked.

Jennifer Neville-Lake holds a photo of her son Daniel, one of three of her children killed in a 2015 collision with convicted drunk driver Marco Muzzo, following Muzzo's parole hearing.

He continued and said his house is now quiet and he misses all the things about his children – their voices, watching them play, hearing them laugh, cry, making their lunches and reading them bedtime stories.

“I miss being a dad,” he said. “My family did not deserve this. They were so precious and innocent.”

The board then heard from Josephine, who said she misses her dad, nephews and niece and said Muzzo was her neighbour, whom she and her father would deliver papers to.

“I am terrified to go out,” said Josephine. “Look what my neighbour did to my dad.”

Lastly, the board heard from Jennifer. Throughout her statement she never once mentioned Muzzo’s name, as she fought back tears and said to write it makes her sick and is a psychological trigger.

“Our lives have been incomparably altered,” she said. “I am childless after being a mother to three. All my children sleep in my dad’s arms at a cemetery in the city where I am forced to live without them.”

More than two years after their deaths, she says she is still wakened by nightmares.

“I hold my breath in an empty house listening in vain for little feet,” she said. “I have cried so many tears that I don’t think I have another one left inside me. I cry every morning and to sleep every night.”

She said her life has been reduced to numbers.

"Christmas 2017 was really difficult for my husband and I. Months later, I was staring at an envelope with a date and that date was July 6, 2018," she said.

That date marked the point when her daughter had been dead longer than she had been alive. She was two at the time of her death.

"Just two days later, on July 8, would have been Harry's eighth birthday. I still have two more death dates to go through, Harry's and Daniel's. Two more dates where my kids will have been dead for longer than they were alive. And all of this will happen before the offender has served his 10 years.”

Muzzo sat sombre, looking down at the parole board table throughout all three statements.

Correctional Services Canada “very strongly” recommended Muzzo be granted day parole and full parole, citing his low risk to reoffend as one of the reasons for their endorsement.

Muzzo answered a number of questions from lead parole board member Kevin Corcoran and Chris Sullivan relating to the events leading up to the collision, how he reacted at the scene, his alcohol consumption, and his time at the institution, among others.

Muzzo said on his flight home from Miami following his bachelor party, where he consumed four Caesars before landing, “it never occurred” to him how he would get home from the airport. As he made his way to his vehicle, he said he felt he was sober.

“Did it ever strike you, you might be impaired?” asked Corcoran.

Muzzo said to a slight degree, but he was confident he could drive.

“You justified drinking and driving because you said, ‘it won’t happen to me,’” said Corcoran.

Muzzo agreed.

“Do you understand that this did not happen to you?” asked Corcoran. “It happened to the Neville-Lake family.”

All three victims referenced Muzzo’s driving record, which includes 10 speeding tickets starting in 2008, averaging a speeding ticket per year, a point not lost on Corcoran. Eight of ten of his tickets were lowered by police.

“That indicates to me that you had a lot of breaks from police,” said Corcoran. “That probably impacts on your attitude toward speeding because there was no consequence to you.”

Corcoran also brought up a part of Muzzo’s history that Muzzo initially said he forgot, then said he “buried” it and had hoped it did not come up at the hearing.

In 2012 Muzzo and a friend were denied entry into a Vaughn strip club. Corcoran said Muzzo then became angry, belligerent and began threatening people’s lives. When police arrived, he was arrested for public intoxication and thrown in the back of a cruiser where he proceeded to try to kick the windows out.

“I’m having a real hard time understanding why you wouldn’t have thought then that you needed some kind of alcohol counselling,” said Corcoran.

Muzzo described both as “isolated instances” and said, “I firmly believe I am not an addict.”

Muzzo said he has been drunk no more than 20 times in his life and had never blacked out or thrown up due to alcohol consumption. Corcoran asked how many drinks Muzzo would have to consume before he was impaired. He replied with eight or nine.

Corcoran leaned forward in his chair, resting his elbows on the board table in front of him.

“Eight or nine drinks?” asked Corcoran. “That’s a really high tolerance.”

Muzzo said he used to be heavier and estimates he has lost 70 pounds while he’s been in prison.

Jennifer Neville-Lake, mother of three children killed in 2015 in a collision with convicted drunk driver Marco Muzzo is comforted by friends following Muzzo's parole hearing.

In his closing remarks, Muzzo said, "I have read every letter, every page of the petition. I am not proud of what I have done. I am deeply ashamed."

He also apologized to "everyone involved in this. I hope others can learn from me, if not now, but what I can do moving forward."

After deliberating for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, the parole board delivered their decision. Corcoran began with telling Muzzo the board “didn’t have good news” for him. In giving their reasoning for their denial, Corcoran said the board felt Muzzo had sabotaged his progress by underestimating his alcohol misuse, if not abuse.

“Ideally, the board would like you to take part in some kind of counselling,” said Corcoran. “Your actions caused the death of four people. Before we can grant you parole, we need to have confidence that you will not be a risk to yourself and the community."

In a statement to media after the hearing, Jennifer Neville-Lake said despite the decision, it was not a “win” or a “victory.”

“Nothing changes for us,” she said.

Source: Metroland News


Last updated on: 2019-01-21 | Link to this post