Courts

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Anthony Lyons 'followed' and 'harassed', appeal hears

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

Published 29/05/2014|11:33

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Anthony Lyons arriving at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin

CONVICTED sex attacker Anthony Lyons was "followed" on at least one occasion, was asked to leave a golf club and his family have been subject to "harassment" following his release from prison, the Court of Criminal Appeal has heard.

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The new information, outlining the "totality of hardship" experienced by Mr Lyons, was revealed during the rehearing of an appeal - by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) - against a six month jail term imposed on the high profile businessman.

The CCA has now reserved its judgment to a later date and will most likely be handed down before July.

Mr Lyons, who was released from prison in December 2012, now lives in the UK and " has been prevented from working in this country" because of adverse publicity, the three judge appeal court heard.

Mr Lyons will also be subject to lifetime supervision by the British police because of his conviction in Ireland for sexual assault.

The CCA, led by former Chief Justice Mr Justice John Murray, also heard that there has been "a significant effect" on his business .

A large folder of media coverage was presented to the CCA and three entries were highlighted by Mr Lyon's legal representatives who advanced a "totality of hardship" argument during the appeal.

"He joins [as a result of certain extensive publicity] a group of very notorious, very serious criminal offenders with no distinction," said Senior Counsel Patrick Gageby, representing Mr Lyons.

"My client can never be forgotten, he will always be notorious," added Mr Gageby.

Mr Gageby highlighted three pieces of media coverage including a report  in the Irish Daily Star in June 2013 which included a large picture of Mr Lyons and an extract from a report in the Irish Mail on Sunday in January 2013 which pictured Mr Lyons home and his wife, indicating "his decision to re-emerge into the public eye".

Mr Gageby also brought the courts attention to a  media report of Mr Lyons pictured with his teenage daughter abroad, which, the court heard, was an intrusion of his family's privacy.

A print media evaluation report tendered previously to the court, detailing what was described as "sustained coverage" of Mr Lyon's home and lifestyle - including a family holiday in Dubai - was also referred to during the fresh appeal.

Mr Gageby said he could not complain about the large level of publicity Mr Lyons case had attracted, as that was a consequence of the conviction.

But he said but was complaining about the effect on Mr Lyons which included his ability to move and to associate with his family, particularly his children.

"It has prevented him from working in this country," said Mr Gageby, who said that internet coverage was now "an important part of social intercourse".

Mr Gageby said that Mr Lyons had been subjected to forms of unwanted attention by media and people who were not members of the media.

And there "appeared to be harassment" of Mr Lyons family and his children.

"Such harassment is not a usual consequence of conviction," said Mr Gageby.

"Their family doesn't suffer in the way my client's family have," added the lawyer.

Mr Lyons had also been asked to leave a golf club in the wake of his conviction, the appeal court heard.

A new letter from the victim, outlining her updated position on the issue of compensation was submitted to the court.

The letter, sought by the DPP, was not however read into the public record.

The DPP, in it's submissions, contended that the trial judge who suspended the vast bulk of a 6 year jail sentence handed down to Mr Lyons did not place excessive reliance on the €75,000 in compensation he was ordered to pay his victim.

The DPP also argued that the trial judge who sentenced Mr Lyons in effect lost sight" of the gravity of the offence and placed "undue weight" on the compensation aspect of the case.

But this claim was challenged this afternoon by Mr Gageby who said the sentence  was not unduly lenient and had not been disposed of by way of a compensation order.

"This [sexual assault] was a unique piece of criminal activity in his 51st year by a man who otherwise, and prior to that, was of completely good character," said Mr Gageby.

Mr Gageby said there were a number of unique matters present, including the fact that Mr Lyons had no previous convictions and that a lot of his friends and family appeared before the jury during his trial.

Mr Gageby acknowledged that the six-month custodial term was lenient, but it did include an aspect or jail or "the clang of the gate" a phrase used by by Mr Justice Daniel Herbert, referring to another case in the House of Lords.

Mr Gageby said that the consequences of the conviction, including the large period of suspension and being on the sexual offenders register - as well as an "enormous loss of reputation" -  is "very large for someone  like Mr Lyons".

Earlier, Senior Counsel Caroline Biggs, representing the DPP,  told the three judge CCA that a decision by trial Judge Desmond Hogan to suspend five and a half years did not reflect, in any way, the gravity of the sexual assault committed by Mr Lyons which included digital penetration of his victim.

Former Chief Justice John Murray, who is leading the court, said that the DPP had not brought aggravated sexual assault charges against Mr Lyons.

But Mr Justice Murray said that nonetheless, the offence committed against his victim was "the ultimate serious attack on human dignity".

The CCA is today re-hearing of an appeal against the undue leniency of a six month jail term imposed on Mr Lyons, a high profile aviation broker.

Last November, the three-judge appeal court found the six-month custodial sentence imposed on the 52-year-old for a violent sexual assault was “unduly lenient”.

The CCA reserved both reasons for its ruling and its decision on what the substituted sentence for the businessman, who is present in court this morning at the Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ), should be.

But owing to the illness of High Court judge Mr Justice Michael Hanna, the court had to be reconvened and the appeal reheard.

Today’s appeal is being heard by Judge Murray as well as High Court judges Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and Mr Justice Daniel Herbert.

The CCA heard that the sentenced imposed on Mr Lyons in July 2012, following a 10 day trial, was "unduly lenient in all the circumstances".

Ms Biggs said it was the suspended element of the sentence that was "a cause of concern" for the director.

Lyons, of Griffith Avenue in Dublin, was jailed for six months by Circuit Court Judge Desmond Hogan in July 2012 for attacking and sexually assaulting a woman in the early hours of the morning of October 3rd, 2010.

He had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting the 27-year-old victim.

The aviation broker was sentenced to six years with five-and-a-half-years suspended and was ordered by Judge Hogan to pay his victim €75,000 in compensation.

Lyons admitted the attack but claimed he was overcome with an “irresistible urge” due to the combination of alcohol, cholesterol medicine and cough syrup.

He was released from prison in December 2012.

During the initial appeal last November, the CCA heard that  Mr Lyons had suffered a “spectacular fall from grace”, and had had to leave the country.

Legal representatives for Lyons also the court their client has been “forced” out of his golf club since his conviction for the sexual assault of an innocent woman.

Senior Counsel Patrick Gageby, representing the businessman, produced a number of reports indicating that the publicity surrounding the case had had a "punitive effect" on Lyons and his family.

He had not been in a position to stay in Ireland and when he holidayed abroad he had been photographed along with his then 15-year-old daughter, the CCA heard.

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