An Ontario man who killed three young children and their grandfather in a 2015 drunk-driving crash north of Toronto is seeking freedom for the first time Wednesday after spending three years in prison.
Marco Muzzo was sentenced to 10 years in March 2016 after pleading guilty to killing the Neville-Lake children — Daniel, 9, his brother Harrison, 5, and two-year-old sister, Milly — and their 65-year-old grandfather, Gary Neville, in a drunk-driving crash four months earlier.
The children’s mother, Jennifer Neville-Lake, is expected to deliver an emotional victim impact statement as parole board members decide whether to grant the King Township, Ont., man some freedom.
When word of Muzzo’s first parole eligibility was announced in August, Neville-Lake penned a Facebook post urging supporters to tell the Parole Board of Canada how her family’s story “has affected and changed you.”
These letters will be considered by parole board members when deciding whether to grant Muzzo day parole.
More than 13,000 people have also signed an online petition asking the National Parole Board to deny his request.
The letter demands Muzzo spend the remainder of his sentence behind bars and parole board members “make an example out of him to prevent more DUI [driving under the influence] cases.”
“Stronger laws and consequences are going to help this,” the petition reads.
Hearing held in Gravenhurst, Ont.
Muzzo will make a bid for conditional release at the Beaver Creek Institution, a minimum security prison, in Gravenhurst, Ont., around 200 kilometres northeast of Toronto, at 9 a.m.
Day parole, according to the Correctional Service of Canada website, allows an offender to participate in community-based activities in preparation for full parole or statutory release.
Offenders on day parole must return nightly to a community-based residential facility or halfway house.
4 killed, 2 injured in drunk-driving crash
Two other extended family members, the children’s grandmother and great-grandmother, were also seriously injured in the Sept. 27, 2015 crash that made headlines across Canada and prompted several candlelight vigils. A memorial remains at the intersection to honour the four victims.
Muzzo was intoxicated at the time of the crash. He was found to have a blood-alcohol level of almost three times the legal limit in Ontario, according to an agreed statement of facts.
The 29-year-old had just returned home from his weekend-long bachelor party in Miami. He admitted to having four alcoholic beverages on the private jet after a night of partying. He picked up his Jeep from the parking lot at Pearson airport and drove off, taking rural sideroads to his home in Vaughan, Ont.
The SUV hit 85 km/h, well over the posted speed limit, when Muzzo blew through the stop sign and plowed into the driver’s side of the minivan carrying the Neville-Lake family on that warm and sunny afternoon, court documents show. The three siblings were headed home after an overnight visit with their grandparents.
Muzzo drove his vehicle at an “excessive rate of speed,” according to the sentencing report. He suffered minor injuries and could barely stand at the crash scene, according to the police report. He was to be married the following month.
Parole board weighs risk
Muzzo had no prior criminal convictions — however, he had a “lengthy” record of previous driving infractions, which include 10 speeding convictions over a 10-year period, from 2003 to 2013, the judge wrote in court documents.
A 12-year driving ban will also commence once Muzzo is granted parole.
The parole board will also hear from the prison’s parole officer, who will make recommendations as to why the offender deserves or does not deserve parole.
The parole board members, armed with psychiatric evaluations, reports from Correctional Services and psychologists, and any progress reports, will then ask Muzzo questions. Parole applicants can appear in person or via video link.
The Muzzo family, which owns the drywall company Marel Contractors, is one of Canada’s wealthiest. The family is worth more than $1.8 billion, Canadian Business magazine estimated in 2017.
Muzzo was listed as a director of Marel Contractors, which has projects across Toronto, including ones in Liberty Village and the Adelaide Hotel, formerly named the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
He will be eligible for full parole next May and statutory release in June 2022, Correctional Service of Canada says.