Marco Muzzo tells sentencing hearing: 'I'm tortured by the grief I've caused'

Marco Muzzo, in his first public comments since his drunk driving led to a crash that killed three children and their grandfather in Vaughan, Ont., tells his sentencing hearing he's "tortured by the grief I've caused." But the parents of the child victims had already stormed out.

Muzzo will be sentenced on March 29

Jennifer Neville-Lake, right, and her husband Edward Lake arrive at the court house in Newmarket, Ont., on Tuesday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Marco Muzzo, in his first public comments since his drunk driving led to a crash that killed three children and their grandfather in Vaughan, Ont., last fall, says he's "tortured by the grief I've caused." 

His voice shaking, Muzzo, 29, spoke Wednesday during the second day of his sentencing hearing in Ontario Superior Court in Newmarket, Ont.

But Jennifer Neville-Lake and Edward Lake, the parents of the three children, had already stormed out of the courtroom before he spoke. 

Reading from a prepared statement, Muzzo said: "I'm tortured by the grief I've caused."

He said he knows his words will be of "no consolation" to the victims' family.

"I know that there are no actions that can ever change what happened, no steps to bring back your children," Muzzo said, adding that since the accident, he has wanted to say he was sorry.

Muzzo also said he plans to devote his time to educating others about the consequences of drunk driving.

Outside court, Jennifer Neville-Lake said the couple had no interest in what Muzzo had to say and questioned the sincerity of his remorse.

"There's nothing he could say that would have any impact on me," she said. "I don't want to listen to the man who is responsible for killing my children. I don't see why I should put myself through that."

When Muzzo was done addressing the court, defence lawyer Brian Greenspan submitted 92 letters of support for his client, from friends, family members, neighbours and co-workers.

Greenspan told court earlier Wednesday that Muzzo's actions amounted to "a terrible decision made by a very good person."

"It should be clear that the Muzzo family, and in particular Marco Muzzo, are heart-stricken by the grief that's been caused," Greenspan said.

SUV slammed into minivan

The Crown has asked that Muzzo be sentenced to between 10 and 12 years after he pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death.

Citing a heavy case load, the judge said Muzzo will be sentenced on March 29

Daniel Neville-Lake, 9, Harrison, 5, and Milly, 2, as well as their 65-year-old grandfather, Gary Neville, all died in the crash. As well as the counts of impaired driving causing death, Muzzo pleaded guilty to two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm. 

Muzzo was drunk and driving 85 km/h in his SUV when he went through a stop sign and slammed into the minivan carrying the family, including the kids' grandmother and great-grandmother, who were seriously injured.

Muzzo was granted bail at the beginning of February, but a judge granted Greenspan's request Tuesday that his client be segregated in jail overnight.

Crown lawyer Paul Tait opened Wednesday's proceedings with his submission to court, saying Muzzo's sentence must "reflect public abhorrence" to the offence.

However, Tait added, "no sentence fashioned by any court would address this catastrophic loss," in also asking that Muzzo be prohibited from driving for eight to 12 years.

The Crown accepts that Muzzo is remorseful and notes he is at a low risk to reoffend. However, Tait also detailed the devastation to the family, and the fact Muzzo's blood-alcohol level on that day in September was nearly three times the legal limit at the time of the crash.

Tait noted that there is no precedent for the judge to draw on when deciding on a sentence, given the number of victims and their ages. The relevant case law also does not set a cap for a sentence, he said.

Muzzo's actions were the equivalent of "having a loaded gun walking down the street," Tait said.

On Tuesday, Neville-Lake stared down Muzzo as she delivered an emotional statement to the court, saying his actions had shattered her world and robbed her of her identity as a mother.

With files from The Canadian Press