Marco Muzzo was granted bail after pleading guilty today to four counts of impaired driving causing death and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm for causing the crash in Vaughan, Ont., that killed three young children and their grandfather.
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Muzzo, 29, was released on a $1-million bond and strict conditions, in what his lawyer said amounts to "virtual house arrest" ahead of sentencing later this month.
Muzzo was driving an SUV that collided with a minivan carrying six members of the Neville-Lake family on Sept. 27 in Vaughan, just north of Toronto. Daniel, 9, Harrison, 5, Milly, 2, and their grandfather, 65-year-old Gary Neville, all died.
The children's grandmother and great-grandmother were also seriously injured.
Jennifer Neville-Lake and her husband, Edward Lake, parents of the three children, spoke to reporters after Muzzo's guilty plea and learning of his bail.
"I was always afraid to call him what he is: a drunk driver," Neville-Lake said.
"A drunk driver killed my family and he admitted to it."
Neville-Lake said she is not at a point where she is able to forgive Muzzo.
"He chose to do this. He chose to drive impaired," she said. "He totally shattered my glass. You can't even replace the glass, it's people."
In entering his plea Thursday morning, Muzzo agreed to a statement of the following facts that was read in court:
- The SUV Muzzo was driving was travelling 85 kilometres an hour when it drove through a stop sign and struck the minivan.
- His blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash ranged from 0.19 to 0.25 per cent, which is two to three times the legal limit in Ontario.
- Police officers who interviewed Muzzo at the scene said he smelled of alcohol, his eyes were glassy, and he tried to use the car to keep his balance. He was also unable to understand instructions from the officers, and urinated on himself.
- Traffic and weather conditions were not a factor in the crash.
Crown agreed to bail conditions
Muzzo was released on bail ahead of sentencing set to take place on Feb. 23 and possibly Feb. 24. The Crown agreed to the following bail conditions, which were later approved by the judge. They include:
- Payment of $1 million in bail.
- No contact with any member of the Neville-Lake family.
- He must not apply for travel documents.
- He's not allowed to operate a motor vehicle.
- He must abstain from alcohol and live with his mother.
- Curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. ET.
- Muzzo must be with his mother or one of his fiancée's parents at all times, unless he is at counselling or a medical appointment.
The judge warned Muzzo that he would not hesitate to have him arrested if he violates any of his bail conditions.
Muzzo's lawyer, Brian Greenspan, said his client did not get special treatment.
"This is not only routine, this would have happened with virtually anyone who had any roots in the community regardless of status, regardless of any other issue," Greenspan told reporters shortly after Muzzo left the court with his fiancée. Muzzo's mother, Dawn, was also in court.
Greenspan said Muzzo "has accepted full responsibility and accountability for his conduct and the devastating consequences of that conduct."
He did not say what sentence he would be seeking for his client.
Muzzo appeared in court in handcuffs and wore a black suit. He didn't look at his family as he sat in the prisoner's box.
He nodded and murmured in agreement when asked if he understood the consequences of his plea.
Muzzo family wealthy
The Muzzo family, one of Canada's wealthiest, released a statement after their son's arrest saying they were "greatly
saddened" by the tragedy and expressed their "deepest sympathy" to the Neville-Lake family.
The family owns the drywall company Marel Contractors and is worth almost $1.8 billion, according to Canadian Business magazine.
Muzzo had returned from a trip to Miami on a private jet on the day of the crash, landing at Toronto's Pearson airport around 3:15 p.m., according to an agreed statement of fact read in court.
He picked up his Jeep from the airport parking lot and drove off, court heard.
Shortly afterward, he drove through a stop sign, hitting the driver's side of the minivan carrying the Neville-Lake family.
It was only after he arrived at the police station that Muzzo learned the four had died, court heard.
Muzzo sits in back of security guard driven SUV...released from custody to await sentencing at home pic.twitter.com/xXqTsFLCQk— @LindaWardCBC