Friday 22 September 2017

Man guilty of sex assault after drug claim dismissed

Conor Gallagher

A HIGH-PROFILE aviation broker was yesterday convicted of sexual assault after a jury rejected his claim that his cholesterol medication had made him do it.

Anthony Lyons (51), of Griffith Avenue in Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at the Circuit Criminal Court to the sexual assault of a 27-year-old woman in the early hours of October 3, 2010.

Lyons was head of the aviation company Santos Dumont, before stepping aside after he had been charged.

He admitted the attack but claimed that he had been overcome with an "irresistible urge" due to the combination of alcohol, the cholesterol medicine Rosuvastatin and cough syrup.

The sentence hearing began immediately after the jury's verdict but Lyons will not have his punishment finalised until the end of July as Judge Desmond Hogan said he wanted time to read the victim-impact report.

He also ordered that a probation report be prepared on Lyons before remanding him on continuing bail and registering him as a sex offender.

Gardai requested that Lyons surrender his passport but the judge said this was not necessary.

The eight-day trial had heard extensive expert evidence on the potential effects of the cholesterol drug. The jury took just over three hours to reject the defence claim that the medicine had caused Lyons to lose control of his actions and attack the woman.

Penetrated

The victim was walking along a north Dublin street when Lyons came up behind her and put his arm around her, before asking if she would be okay getting home. He then rugby-tackled her to the ground.

"As he was trying to push me into a dark area where the wooded area is, I hit him over the head with my phone as hard as I could," she said.

"I was screaming, 'No! No! No! and 'Help!' and everything I could think of."

The woman said she was face down on the ground while Lyons was groping and fondling her from behind. His full weight was on her and she couldn't move.

"I said at one point I was pregnant and asked him to stop," she said.

While Lyons was struggling to remove her underwear, she phoned gardai and told them that she was being raped.

She also said she was fondled and digitally penetrated during the attack until a passer-by came to her aid, causing Lyons to flee.

Gardai were immediately alerted and Lyons was arrested nearby.

He initially denied the offence and was released on bail. Several months later he handed a statement to gardai, admitting the attack, but claimed that he had been overcome with an "irresistible urge" brought on by the cholesterol medication that he had started taking the day before.

Because of his admissions, most of the trial focused on whether the drug Rosuvastatin was to blame for Lyons' actions.

A medical expert for the prosecution told the jury there was no evidence that cholesterol medication could cause aggression and that even if it did, Lyons had not been on it long enough for it to take effect.

Professor Alice Stanton, who is a specialist in clinical pharmacology, said clinical trials of Rosuvastatin provided no evidence that it caused increased irritability, aggression or violence.

But an expert witness for the defence pointed to instances of patients on such medications becoming aggressive.

He also said the speed at which they can affect the human brain cannot be known for certain as the drugs had only been tested on rat brains.

Dr Malcolm Vandenburg told defence counsel Patrick Gageby about case studies which listed several patients who were on similar types of medication and showed highly aggressive behaviour.

During the sentence hearing, defence counsel Patrick Gageby said that Lyons was willing to pay compensation to the victim but that it would not be appropriate to offer this before sentence was passed.

He also asked the judge to take into account the media publicity the trial had received and its effect on Lyons's family.

Irish Independent

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