Mar 30, 2016 - DRUNK-DRIVING TRAGEDY TOO FAMILIAR FOR SUDBURIANS

The mothers of three teens killed by a drunk driver teamed up with others to form a foundation called Impact 6/21, devoted to preventing drunk driving.

A Toronto man's 10-year sentence for driving drunk and killing four people likely won't change people's driving behaviour, a member of the Sudbury chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada says.

Peggy Meigs was reacting to the prison sentence Marco Muzzo received Tuesday in a Newmarket courtroom.

"With respect to impaired driving, it is a pretty tough sentence, but it doesn't seem like it, because of the consequences of what happened," Meigs said. "It doesn't seem like it's enough, but with respect to other impaired driving convictions, it's actually pretty tough when you look at past rulings."

Muzzo pleaded guilty in February to four counts of impaired driving causing the deaths of Daniel, 9, Harrison, 5, and Milly, 2, plus their grandfather, Gary Neville, 65, and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm against Neville's wife Neriza, 64, and her mother, Josefina Frias, 91.

"This is one of the toughest sentences for killing four people," Meigs said. "Usually when something happens, only one or two people are killed."

Despite the sentence, Meigs is unsure whether behaviour will change when it comes to drinking and driving. It has been a long, hard road for anti-drunk driving campaigners.

Greater Sudbury has certainly seen its share of drunk-driving tragedies. In 2009, three teens, Jazmine Houle, Steven Phillippe and Caitlin Jelley, were walking home when they were run down by a drunk driver on Father's Day in Valley East.

Nicolas Piovesan was given a seven-year sentence for three counts of causing death by criminal negligence. At the time, it was the longest sentence of its kind in Canada.

Evidence in court indicated Piovesan had been drinking in the Valley East bar before getting in his car and hitting the teens.

In 2014, Walter Carter of Lively was jailed for five years after getting drunk, climbing into his truck and colliding with DJ Hancock, killing him and injuring another man.

Hancock, 18, was returning home after a tryout with the Sudbury Nickel Barons junior team in August 2014.

At the time, Carter was out on bail after being charged earlier in the year with drunk driving. His bail conditions including no drinking and no driving provisions.

Despite the attention these high-profile cases bring to drunk driving, and related anti-drunk driving campaigns, Meigs isn't sure it has much impact on drivers.

"We've tried everything, collectively," she said. "We've handed out things, told people stories. Everyone seems completely outraged when these things happen, but once the media coverage dies down, people continue to do it.

"So, I'm not sure if a longer sentence will deter people. I'm not sure what we can do anymore other than telling people not to do it and showing them what happens. Maybe eventually our legal system will start considering this crime a little more like it's an actual crime."

Personally, Meigs said she believes Muzzo should have gotten an even stiffer sentence.

"But again, that's just personally. I'm sure the mother whose children and father were killed believes he should have gone away for life. But no sentence will bring back her family."

Pleading guilty actually spares the family from a painful trial, Meigs said.

"The sentence won't bring back the tiny humans, but for closure, at least the parents and family won't have to go though a court hearing, so it's likely for the best," she said.

Superior Court Justice Michelle Fuerst said Muzzo must be held accountable for the irreversible suffering he's caused.

Muzzo, 29, 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 last September, Justice Fuerst said.

And while he has shown genuine remorse for his actions, "the high degree of Mr. Muzzo's moral blameworthiness, combined with the enormous and far-reaching consequences of his offences, set this case apart from others," she said.

"Notwithstanding the many positive aspects of Mr. Muzzo's background and character ... a lengthy penitentiary term is necessary," in part to deter others from taking the same dangerous risk, Fuerst added.

Source: The Sudbury Star


 

Last updated on: 2016-04-20 | Link to this post