The driver of a Corvette who was travelling more than twice the posted speed limit when he crashed into a Kia on Highway 50 in August 2018, resulting in the death of a 47-year-old mother from Vaughan, her seven-year-old son and a 12-year-old girl who was a family friend, has been found guilty of three counts of dangerous driving causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Justice Nancy Dennison, who presided over the judge-alone trial, acquitted Paul Manzon, who was 45 at the time of the deadly collision, on the more serious charges of three counts of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
Read more: Trial begins for Caledon man accused in fatal crash that killed Woodbridge mother, son, and friend
The trial, which took place in person last fall at the Brampton courthouse, heard from five civilian witnesses and an agreed statement of facts set out evidence from eight other civilians, including some who saw the blue Corvette prior to the crash.
Manzon, of Caledon, who is out on bail, did not testify in his own defence.
On Aug. 4, 2018, Allison Jones, who had been driving southbound along Highway 50 in a Kia, was attempting to turn eastbound on a green light at the intersection of Nashville Road.
As Jones began to turn, the Kia was struck by a blue Corvette being driven northbound on Highway 50 by Manzon, who also had a green light.
Witnesses testified it was still light outside and visibility was good.
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The corvette struck Jones’ vehicle, sending the Kia airborne, before it struck a pole on a median between northbound and southbound traffic.
Jones was killed from injuries suffered as a result of the collision, as were her seven-year-old son Miles Jones and a friend of the family’s, 12-year-old Julia Riccobene.
Jones’ daughter, who was also in the Kia, survived. They were all on their way home from a pool party.
Court heard Manzon was driving home with a passenger named Rhonda Gary, whom he had taken on a date to a car show.
Data recovered from his Corvette found Manzon was driving 163 kilometres per hour five seconds before the collision. The speed limit was 80 kilometres per hour.
Dennison said Gary’s testimony at trial was reliable despite the fact she was impaired to some degree. Gary described Manzon’s driving as “aggressive at times, faster than her liking, and told him to take it easy.”
Dennison told the court Gary, who suffered broken bones in her foot and was off work for a few months, is suing both drivers for civil damages.
A number of witnesses testified that Manzon was speeding prior to the collision and accelerated, weaving between lanes, as he saw two motorcycles in front of him on Highway 50.
“Whether he was racing, being chased, or showing off, he drove at a high rate of speed,” Dennison told the court.
While the threshold has been met for dangerous driving, Dennison explained that “the Crown did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt the counts of criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm.”
She pointed out that Manzon’s involvement with the other vehicle ended before the collision occurred. She also found there was evidence he tried to slow down and said there was no evidence he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Witnesses also testified that the Kia had come out of nowhere but Dennison highlighted that no reasonable person would drive 163 kilometres per hour on a highway near an intersection with visible traffic lights.
Salvina Greco, Julia Riccobene’s aunt, said both families are satisfied with the verdict but are hopeful that Manzon spends time in prison.
“Mr. Manzon needs to be accountable for what he has done. He took three lives away — Allison, a beautiful mom, Miles and Julia — and he needs to understand what he did and other drivers out there need to understand that speeding kills.”
A sentencing hearing has tentatively be scheduled for May, but a date has been set later this month to figure out if lawyers can decide upon an earlier date for sentencing.
The maximum sentence for a conviction of dangerous driving causing death is life in prison.