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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Businessman Anthony Lyons paid €200k compensation to sexual assault victim

Published 10/07/2014 | 10:41

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BUSINESSMAN Anthony Lyons paid almost €200,000 compensation to a woman whom he violently sexually assaulted under a settlement of a civil action taken by her, it was disclosed at the Court of Criminal Appeal today.

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Lyons, (53), from Griffith Avenue, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attacking and sexually assaulting a then 27-year-old woman in the early hours of the morning of October 3rd, 2010. Lyons was ordered by Judge Hogan to pay his victim €75,000 in compensation in lieu of jailtime - something her family have hit out against.

The three judge appeal court today reserved its judgment on an appeal by the DPP arguing the sentence of six years, with five-and-a-half years suspended,  imposed on Lyons by Judge Desmond Hogan in July 2012 was unduly lenient.

The matter was before the court today arising from the fact the DPP had forwarded a letter to the appeal court, after it heard submissions in the appeal last month, outlining details of the settlement of the civil proceedings brought by the victim against Lyons.

When Caroline Biggs SC, for the DPP, said the victim had asked that the settlement sum reached in the civil proceedings not be disclosed in open court, Mr Justice John Murray, presiding, and sitting with Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and Mr Justice Daniel Herbert, said this was a public court and justice had to be administered in public.

While he could understand the views of the complainant, the DPP had a responsibility to the public, the judge said.  He then outlined that the sum involved was €199,500 and it was confirmed to the court that sum was inclusive of legal costs.

The judge said the fact of the compensation was a relevant matter which had now been proven and could only be proved in open court.  This was one of the matters the court would take into account when considering its judgment.

In November 2013, a differently constituted CCA had ruled the sentence imposed was “unduly lenient” but reserved the reasons for its judgement and later reserved its decision on what sentence should be imposed in its place. However, due to the illness of one of the appeal court judges, Mr Justice Michael Hanna, the court has had to be reconstituted and the appeal re-heard.

In submissions during that re-hearing last May, Ms Biggs SC, for the DPP, argued the sentence imposed was on Lyons “unduly lenient” in all the circumstances. Although the sentencing judge referred to the long-lasting effect of the attack on the victim and her family and its psychological effects as set out in the victim impact report, he did not give practical effect to these matters, she argued.

The sentence should reflect the gravity of the offence, the effect on the victim and society as a whole and a need not only for specific but general deterrence. Two factors – compensation and the issue of remorse – were given inappropriate consideration, she said.

Patrick Gageby SC, for Lyons, said the matter was not disposed of just by compensation but a very substantial period of suspended sentence was also imposed.

This offence was a unique piece of criminal activity in his 51st year by a man of previously good character, counsel added.

While not arguing character trumps jail or the gravity of an offence, there were also a number of unique characteristics such as the absence of previous convictions and a “completely blameless” life involving charity work and other aspects.

The trial court heard the victim was walking home after a night out with her family when she approached from behind by Lyons who “rugby-tackled” her to the ground on a dark stretch of road.  The court was told Lyons attempted to take the victims mobile phone - with which she had earlier struck him on the head – and attempted to stop her calling out by putting his hand over her mouth and around her neck.

The victim said she was groped and digitally penetrated during the attack until a passer-by came to her aid, causing Lyons to flee. Gardaí were immediately alerted and Lyons was arrested nearby.

He initially denied the offence but several months later gave a statement to gardaí admitting the attack but claiming he was overcome with an “irresistible urge” brought on by cholesterol medication he had started taking the day before. He was released from prison in December 2012.

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