Sex attack businessman is freed from jail under cover of night due to 'security fears'
Published 15/12/2012 | 05:00
PRISON authorities have defended their decision to release convicted sex offender Anthony Lyons from prison under cover of darkness.
They said the businessman (52) was freed shortly after midnight yesterday because of security considerations outside Wheatfield prison, where he served four-and-a-half months of a six-month sentence for sexual assault.
The move provoked outrage among members of the victim's family, who had earlier been left devastated by the short time father-of-four Lyons spent behind bars.
The Irish Prison Service said it was entitled to release prisoners at any time on the date of the end of their sentence.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter declined to comment on the timing of the release, but a neighbour of the victim said she and her family were "furious and blame the Government and Alan Shatter".
She said the victim was "furious" that Lyons had been allowed to "sneak out in the dead of night".
"They have already been kicked by the sentence, then by the appeal and now again by what happened today," the neighbour said yesterday.
Lyons made a quick exit from Wheatfield at around 12.15am, and was photographed by the Irish Independent as he sped off in a waiting BMW.
The blinds were drawn on the windows of his luxury home behind electric gates in Griffith Avenue on the northside of Dublin yesterday.
Lyons was sentenced to six years last July for sexually assaulting the woman in October 3, 2010.
But Dublin Circuit Criminal Court judge, Desmond Hogan, suspended five-and-a-half years after considering psychiatric and probation reports and testimonials.
He also ordered Lyons to pay his victim €75,000 compensation.
The Director of Public Prosecutions subsequently applied to the Court of Criminal Appeal to review the "unduly lenient" sentence.
The appeal was due to be heard last Tuesday, but the court heard that Lyons' defence lawyer was not available and the appeal was put back.
Lyons had pleaded not guilty to the charge and claimed he had been overcome with an "irresistible urge" due to a combination of alcohol, his cholesterol medicine and cough syrup.
Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said they were "terribly disappointed" that the appeal hearing did not take place before Lyons was released.
She said the centre had received many letters from concerned women in the aftermath of Lyons' sentencing, saying how upset they were that he had received "such a lenient sentence".
The Irish Prison Service said it was not unprecedented to release prisoners in the early hours where there was potential for security to be disrupted.
While awaiting the outcome of the DPP's appeal, Lyons is expected to celebrate his freedom by attending a Premiership match involving his favourite club, QPR.