A man sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty in a drunk driving crash that killed three young children and their grandfather will be eligible to apply for unescorted temporary absence from prison next month.
Unescorted temporary absence is a release of limited duration in which an offender leaves a corrections institution for medical, administrative, community service, family contact, parental responsibility, personal development (rehabilitation), or compassionate reasons, unaccompanied by corrections staff, according to Corrections Canada.
Daniel Neville-Lake, 9, his brother Harrison, 5, their sister Milly, 2, and the children’s grandfather, Gary Neville, 65, died after the van they were in was hit by a speeding SUV driven by Marco Muzzo.
The children’s grandmother and great-grandmother were also seriously hurt in the Vaughan, Ont., collision.
Muzzo was sentenced in March 2016 to 10 years in prison after a judge said he must be held accountable for the irreversible suffering he’d caused in the September 2015 crash north of Toronto.
Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst noted Muzzo had already accrued a lengthy record of driving infractions — many of them for speeding — when he made the fateful decision to drink and drive after returning home from a trip to Miami.
Muzzo pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death and two of impaired driving causing bodily harm and was to serve nine years and four months after credit for time served.
The correctional service says Muzzo will be eligible for day parole in November 2018, full parole in May 2019 and statutory release on June 18, 2022, and faces a 12-year driving ban, which will take effect on his release from custody.
Before sentencing, Muzzo apologized to the Neville-Lake family, saying he was “tortured by the grief and the pain” that he had caused.
“I will forever be haunted by the reality of what I have done. I am truly sorry,” he said.
The children’s mother, Jennifer Neville-Lake, posted an emotional message on Facebook earlier this week, to mark the two-year anniversary of the crash.
“Another year of every day hearing how many others have joined this gruesome family I was forced into, made up of victims of impaired driving,” she wrote.
“I may sound like a broken record but trust me, you don’t want to be me. Please. Plan and think before you drink. Don’t kill kids. Don’t kill a family.”
During Muzzo’s criminal trial, court heard he picked up his Jeep from the airport parking lot and drove through a stop sign shortly afterward, plowing into the driver’s side of the minivan carrying the Neville-Lake family. He was speeding at the time.
The Neville-Lake family is seeking more than $25 million from Muzzo and his family’s drywall company, Marel Contractors, arguing their negligence caused the fatal crash.