Jan 31, 2016 - RULING COULD INCREASE MUZZO'S SENTENCE [Neville-Lake Family]

A recent Supreme Court of Canada decision on drunk driving could pump up the prison sentence that billionaire heir Marco Muzzo will soon be facing.

Canada’s highest court restored the 6 1/2-year sentence for Quebec auto body worker Tom Lacasse, who killed two teenaged female passengers in his vehicle.

“This decision has opened the door for judges to impose longer sentences above the usual range in similar cases where it’s warranted and to denounce the unlawful conduct,” defence lawyer George Tsimiklis said.

Muzzo is expected to plead guilty Thursday in a Newmarket courthouse to charges related to the tragic car crash in the Kipling Ave.- Kirby Rd. area of Vaughan that killed three siblings and their grandfather Sept. 27, 2015.

He is facing four counts of drunk driving causing the deaths of Daniel Neville-Lake, 9, his brother, Harrison, 5, his sister, Milly, 2, and their grandfather, Gary Neville, 65.

Tsimiklis and Greg Lafontaine — two experienced Toronto criminal defence lawyers who handle many drunk-driving cases — agree the decision could signal higher penalties meted out in the future.

“This will likely increase the sentences, but there’s already a very high price being paid without any further reduction in drunk driving,” Lafontaine said.

In the recent Quebec case, Lacasse lost control of his vehicle — at a speed of 130 km/h in a 75 km/h zone — along a curved country road in Sainte-Aurelie in the Beauce region.

It “skidded more than 60 metres before landing in the bottom of a ditch, lifting off the ground and rolling over several times,” court heard.

Lacasse, a first-time offender, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to two counts of impaired driving causing the deaths of Nadia Pruneau, who was celebrating her 18th birthday, and Caroline Fortier, 17.

Quebec’s Court of Appeal reduced the sentence imposed by Superior Court Justice Claudette Tessier-Couture to four years, but the Supreme Court restored the original penalty. The court asserted that sentencing guidelines “shouldn’t be considered averages, let alone straitjackets” for judges.

“Sentencing ranges are nothing more than summaries of the minimum and maximum sentences imposed in the past ... (they) are ... not hard and fast rules,” the judgment stated.

The Supreme Court decision also reaffirmed the sentencing judge’s ability to consider the frequency of the crime in a culprit’s area.

In Lacasse’s area, approximately one in five cases involves an impaired driving offence.

Muzzo’s lawyer, Brian Greenspan, said the Lacasse decision goes beyond drunk driving and restores sentencing autonomy to trial judges in all cases.

“This Supreme Court is now at odds with the philosophy of the previous government, which was attempting to legislate sentences through mandatory minimum laws,” Greenspan said.

“The whole concept and policy of minimum sentence is absolutely contradicted by the Lacasse decision.

“This is a push back that says judges are in the best position to impose a just and appropriate sentence based on the circumstances of the offence and the offender. The judge shouldn’t be restricted necessarily by a preconceived notion of the appropriate range,” he said.

Tsimiklis said “the devastating and catastrophic consequences of Mr. Muzzo’s actions” will weigh heavily on the court’s decision. According to Tsimiklis, if Muzzo pleads guilty to drunk-driving charges as expected, “it is likely the court will impose a penitentiary sentence beyond the usual six- and eight-year range and impose a just sentence between eight and 12 years.”

Source: Toronto Sun




Last updated on: 2016-02-01 | Link to this post