MANDEL: Corvette driver in deadly crash that killed mom and two kids denied rights, lawyer says

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Right after he was charged with dangerous driving causing the deaths of a Woodbridge mom and two children, Paul Manzon said he wanted to call his lawyer.

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No problem, the Caledon man was told by Peel Police. Use your own cellphone. Knock on the door when you’re done.

A short time later, the burly man with the shaved head, long goatee and tattoos told investigators he’d tried calling twice but his lawyer didn’t pick up.

What should the cops have done then?

According to his current lawyer, Craig Bottomley, the Charter requires the officers to hold off on their questioning until their newly-arrested suspect speaks to the counsel of his choice. But they didn’t do that.

Instead, they allegedly plowed ahead, trying to elicit a statement from Manzon about the horrific crash seven weeks earlier that killed Allison Jones, 47, her son Miles Jones, 7, and friend Julia Riccobene, 12.

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Peel Police are under the “misconception” that if you don’t get a hold of their lawyer, you get to go ahead anyway, Bottomley told Justice Nancy Dennison.

“They fell down on their obligation,” he said. “You can’t wait forever. But they don’t wait at all.”

On Aug. 4, 2018, police said, Jones and the children were in a SUV turning left from Hwy. 50 in Brampton when they were struck by a Corvette driven by Manzon at twice the 80 km/h speed limit.

Court heard Manzon had been told by his lawyer to report to Peel Police on Sept. 24, 2018 to receive his summons — but not to say anything.

So he tried to do as he’d been told.

Manzon was charged that day with three counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and three of dangerous driving causing death, as well as other charges related to the injuries caused to another young passenger who survived the collision.

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In a video footage played in Brampton court, Manzon was then taken to the police interrogation room where the accused killer driver repeatedly said he didn’t want to talk, that his lawyer has told him in the past not to talk and if that wasn’t clear enough: “I’ve got nothing to say about nothing.”

Yet the police continued to question him, charged Bottomley, trying to establish a rapport and then carrying on in an attempt to get him to confess. The lawyer accused officers of misleading Manzon by telling him this was his only chance to give his side of the story — “not true” — and urging him to basically ignore his lawyer’s advice because “he’s not the one sitting in this chair, pal.”

Manzon was told by police that data from his Corvette showed he’d been doing 160 km/h shortly before the crash and 140 km/h on impact. He said he knew he was looking at substantial jail time if he was convicted and “in a heartbeat” would trade places with the mom and two children who were killed. “It is what it is,” he said again and again.

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“This was not a breach. He was not compelled to talk,” argued Crown Shazin Karim.

Karim tried valiantly to defend the officers: They had allowed Manzon to call his lawyer, they knew he’d had some legal advice before he came in and he never said he wanted to try to call him again.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

She also reminded the judge Manzon “didn’t say much” of substance in the police statement and it may not be used by the prosecution anyway.

Bottomley described Peel Police behaviour as an “egregious” breach of Manzon’s fundamental Charter rights to obtain legal advice and “keep his mouth shut” after his arrest by officers who apparently have no training on their obligations in this area.

“They just didn’t care,” he claimed. “What the police have done here is pay lip service to what they see as a hollow right.”

They just forged ahead. “There’s zero effort to actually implement the right to counsel.”

Bottomley urged the judge not to allow the Crown to use Manzon’s statement when the trial begins officially on Oct. 18.

Dennison said she’ll make her ruling by then.

mmandel@postmedia.com

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