NEWMARKET, Ont. – A man accused of drunk driving in a horrific crash that killed three young children and their grandfather accepts full responsibility for his actions, his lawyer said Wednesday as he announced the man will plead guilty to multiple charges.
Marco Muzzo — a member of one of Canada’s wealthiest families — faces a dozen counts of impaired driving and six more charges of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle related to the Sept. 27 crash.
His case took several quick turns on Wednesday, starting out in a bail court and ending up before a Superior Court judge who granted his lawyer’s request to have Muzzo return early next month to enter his guilty plea.
“Mr. Muzzo has always accepted full responsibility for his actions and his conduct, and has from the first day of our meeting expressed his wish that this matter proceed as expeditiously as possible to this resolution,” Muzzo’s lawyer Brian Greenspan said outside court.
Nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, his five-year-old brother Harrison, their two-year-old sister Milly, and their 65-year-old grandfather Gary Neville died after the van they were in was T-boned by an SUV in Vaughan, Ont.
The children’s grandmother and great-grandmother were seriously injured in the crash.
The children’s parents, who’ve attended all of Muzzo’s court hearings to date, said they were “cautiously optimistic” about his intentions to plead guilty because it would allow them to move forward.
“We can never repair, but maybe we can start to learn how to carry our broken hearts,” a tearful Jennifer Neville-Lake said outside court, wearing the ashes of her children in a locket around her neck.
“We’re given the life sentence. Our life sentence began just after 4 o’clock Sept. 27th,” she said when asked what she’d consider a fair sentence for Muzzo.
“There is no sentence that he can ever do that is going to repay what he took from us,” she said.
“We have been utterly decimated by this.”
Greenspan said some of the charges Muzzo faces are “redundant,” adding that his client will plead guilty to “those charges that the Crown presents to the court” at his next appearance.
The prominent lawyer noted that Muzzo’s legal case is progressing quickly — the fastest he’s seen in his long career.
“What’s driving that is his acceptance of responsibility, his acceptance of the misconduct in which he was engaged and his true expression of remorse and contrition in the circumstances of this case,” he said.
Greenspan emphasized that no “plea bargain” had been struck in the case, and said he and the Crown would be making differing submissions on what they believe to be appropriate penalties for Muzzo.
Muzzo will likely be given credit for time spent in custody since his arrest, which Greenspan said would amount to about six months by the time of his next court appearance.
The 29-year-old Muzzo looked serious and glanced briefly at his family when he appeared in court. Greenspan said it was an emotional day for his client.
“It’s been a very long and difficult ordeal but he’s wanted this matter to be closed and the chapter to be closed as quickly as possible,” he said.
The Muzzo family, who did not speak to reporters on Wednesday, 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 nearly $1.8 billion, according to Canadian Business magazine.
Before the crash, Muzzo had seven non-criminal offences, including a conviction for driving with a handheld device, according to the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.
Muzzo’s previous offences occurred throughout the Toronto area, from Richmond Hill to Newmarket, Orillia and Mississauga, the ministry said.