Psychological scars dwarf injuries suffered in assault
THE facts of the sexual attack perpetrated by aviation boss Anthony Lyons are hard to digest.
But they must be recorded.
After a night out with family and friends almost four years ago, the young woman was walking home when she felt an arm go around her right side.
The man who put his arm around her said: "Are you getting home safely?"
The man, Anthony Lyons, tackled her to the ground, trying to silence her by putting his hand around her mouth and grabbing her mobile phone – the phone she was desperately trying to use to call gardai.
He groped her, put his hands inside her underwear and managed to insert his fingers into her vagina before a heroic passer-by intervened and saved her from God knows what fate.
The victim was bruised and had scratches as well as muscle aches and pains.
But her physical injuries were dwarfed by the psychological impact of her trauma. She was, said the Court of Criminal Appeal, emotionally devastated.
The psychological effect was severe and extensive, affecting her capacity to sleep, work and function in every aspect of her everyday life. The event gave rise to fear, vulnerability and stress and interfered with her trust in others people.
She required professional support and, the court said, the trauma had a horrendous and devastating affect on her life.
Former Chief Justice John Murray said that it will be a long time, if ever, before the victim will feel that she can safely walk to her home along a public street.
The three judge court ruled that this is not a fear which simply affects her, but is a fear which this kind of offence instils in every woman who walks in a public area which is quiet and without others around – and not necessarily when it is a dark evening or night.
"It is these kind of offences, some of them less serious than the present one and obviously some much more serious, that inculcate in women a sense of apprehension, or even fear, when walking quiet or lonely places or their own," said the court.
This was one of the reasons why the court ruled that offences such as these should involve a significant jail term to deter offenders.
In sending Lyons back to jail for another 18 months, the courts have sent a powerful – and welcome – message to society that sexual violence will not be treated lightly.