Thursday 19 October 2017

Sex attacker's family 'hounded'

Anthony Lyons is facing a revised sentence for assaulting a woman, after the original prison term was ruled too lenient
Anthony Lyons is facing a revised sentence for assaulting a woman, after the original prison term was ruled too lenient

The family of a businessman were followed and abused when he was jailed for six months for a violent sex attack, a court has been told.

Anthony Lyons is facing a revised sentence for assaulting a woman after the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) ruled the original prison term was too lenient.

His barrister Patrick Gageby told the three judge court that Lyons' wife Eileen and their four children had suffered a campaign of harassment over the case.

Their 10-year-old son was among those targeted while being brought to and collected from school by his mother, he said.

Mr Gageby said a man who lived near the family, a "supportive network" of taxi drivers, and the media, had targeted the family from the day Lyons was jailed.

"The publicity in this case was unusual and an unfortunate consequence," the barrister added, appealing that the intimidation and media coverage which had a "punitive effect" be taken into account by the judges.

Lyons was sentenced to six years in July 2012 for sexually assaulting a then 27-year-old woman in the early hours of the morning of October 3 2010.

But Judge Desmond Hogan sparked outrage when he controversially suspended five-and-a-half years of the jail term and ordered him to pay his victim 75,000 euro in compensation.

The CCA previously upheld an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) against the length of the sentence on grounds the trial judge had been too lenient.

The three judges have reserved judgment on the revised sentence.

Lyons, a former aviation boss from Griffith Avenue in north Dublin, was convicted by a jury after pleading not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the sexual assault.

He admitted the attack - in which the victim was rugby-tackled to the ground and violently physically and sexually assaulted - but claimed he was overcome with an "irresistible urge" due to a combination of alcohol, cholesterol medicine and cough syrup.

Lyons was released from prison almost a year ago.

His barrister claimed he has since been forced to work in the UK, where he has signed the sex offenders' register and has a card to track his movements.

Probation and police reports found Lyons had accepted full responsibility for the attack, had shown remorse and was at a low risk of re-offending, Mr Gageby added.

His victim's family sat at the back of the courtroom for the 90 minute hearing while her attacker - dressed in a black coat, dark suit, blue shirt and burgundy tie - sat nearby, supported by several relations.

Lyons bowed his head in his left hand as Caroline Biggs, senior counsel for the DPP, outlined the violent sex attack in detail to the court.

She appealed that the judges take into account the gravity of the case and a victim impact statement previously handed to the court which will not be published.

"This offence was at the higher end of the scale," Ms Biggs said.

She said the victim had not yet taken any of the 75,000 euro paid to her solicitor in compensation.

The barrister said while media coverage could not be a mitigating factor, the affect of the coverage could be taken into account.

"An offender should and must be held up to public criticism in the press," Ms Biggs added.

Mr Gageby maintained what had happened to Lyons had been a very spectacular and very public fall from grace.

He said the level of publicity surrounding the case had marked him out as an outlaw in an age where such a concept was almost medieval.

In statements to the court, several family members, including Lyons' two adult children, claimed they were "hounded" by the press, while a teenage daughter described being in fear of those intimidating the family.

Mr Gageby handed a file of newspaper reports to the judges, which included photographs of the teenage girl on holiday with her father and which described Lyons as a "sex beast" and "vile sex monster".

He claimed they showed the unwarranted publicity on the Lyons family had continued for a much more sustained period than usual in such a case.

Press Association

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