MANDEL: Corvette driver on trial for crash that killed mom, two kids

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On the day Paul Manzon was arrested, a Peel Regional Police sergeant sat him down in the interview room and told him his Corvette had been travelling at twice the 80 km/h speed limit when it collided with a car turning left in the Brampton intersection.

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Killed in the horrific Aug. 4, 2018 crash were Julia Riccobene, 12, her friend’s brother Miles Jones, 7, and his mom, Allison Jones, 47. They were all in an SUV on Hwy. 50, near Countryside Dr., at about 9 p.m. on the Saturday evening of the August long weekend when they were hit.

“It is what it is, man,” a sombre Manzon kept repeating. “I’d give my life up to get those lives back. In a heartbeat.”

The trial began on what would have been Miles’ 11th birthday. According to a GoFundMe campaign that raised $33,000 for both Woodbridge families, the child loved taekwondo while Julia was involved in soccer, dance, and figure skating.

Manzon, 48, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and three of dangerous driving causing deaths, as well as other charges related to the injuries caused to another young passenger who survived the collision.

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During the Sept. 24, 2018 videotaped police interview played in court, Manzon wore a Harley Davidson T-shirt, had a shaved head, long goatee, earrings in both ears and tattoos on both arms. He acknowledged police have mistaken him for a biker.

“I’m not here to say you’re a bad guy,” the officer assured him. “This accident is not 100% your fault, it never is.”

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This was his opportunity to give his “side of the story,” he was told.

Manzon didn’t take the bait.

“It is what it is,” he said, sighing heavily. “Whatever happens, I deal with it when the time comes. I take it as it comes.”

Defence lawyer Craig Bottomley is challenging the admissibility of Manzon’s police statement at the judge-alone trial, arguing his client had been unable to reach his lawyer at the time and police should have waited to speak with him until he had.

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Not that he was particularly chatty. Manzon, though, did talk about the jeopardy he faced.

If convicted, he said he’d been told he could be facing “substantial time” and perhaps up to six years in prison. But he appeared to be philosophical — and sadly accurate about the little time convicted speeders often have to do.

“I get out in two years on good behaviour and continue with my life and hope my parents are still alive when I get out,” Manzon said. “That’s the main thing, that I take care of my parents.”

After they discussed their mutual love of dogs for quite some time, the officer returned the conversation to the deadly collision seven weeks earlier.

Manzon was told data downloaded from his sports car showed he was going 160 km/h three to five seconds before the crash and 140 km/h on impact. “You’re lucky, you walked away.”

“100%,” Manzon agreed.

If only two children and a mother would have been as fortunate.

The trial continues.

mmandel@postmedia.com

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