Tuesday 17 September 2019

Anthony Lyons to return to prison immediately

Tim Healy

CONVICTED sex attacker Anthony Lyons is to go back to prison for another 18 months following a Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) decision today.

The aviation broker - jailed effectively for six months in July 2012 for attacking and sexually assaulting a woman in the early hours of the morning of October 3, 2010 - had served that sentence and was back in court today when he bowed his head as the new sentence was imposed.

At his trial, he had pleaded not guilty but was convicted and received a six year sentence with five and a half suspended, meaning he got an effective six months.

Today the CCA said that sentence should have been six years with four suspended meaning that with time served, he has another 18 months to do.

The CCA said in quashing the effective six months sentence originally imposed on the aviation broker by the Circuit Court, and having taken into account the gravity of the offence and the impact on the victim, it had concluded he must be returned to prison immediately.

The family of his victim issued a statement following the decision.

It included: "Today Anthony Lyons goes back to prison, but the appeal process has brought severe stress and heartache to our family.

"We heard the word ‘sorry’ mentioned only once in the court by Lyons’s legal team from a prepared statement, while Lyons himself pleaded not guilty and continues to plead not guilty to his brutal and vile crime.

"To us, this is not remorse. Far from it. At no stage has Anthony Lyons shown any remorse for his violent and vicious attack on our daughter.

"For all the tremendous support, we have got to thank from our hearts the following people and we are sure they will feel our pain today. Our families, relatives, neighbours and friends who carried us on this long and cruel journey; the gardai and DPP who together brought Anthony Lyons to justice for his heinous crime; our legal team who worked relentlessly in the background; the Rotunda Hospital, doctors, counsellors and the Rape Crisis Centre.

"Together they helped our daughter through her terrible ordeal."

The sentence the CCA imposed was four times what was effectively imposed by the court of trial with credit being allowed for the six months he has already served.

The CCA said while it had been argued on his behalf that he had paid a heavy price for the offence it was "brought about essentially by his own wrongdoing, although undoubtedly the intensity and nature of the public attacks on him, by some sections of the news media, was to a degree excessive and based on false characterisations of the gravity of the offence."

In the circumstances, the court had regard to some degree to the totality of the hardship but "not to every element" relied upon by Lyons' lawyers.

There was no evidence, for example, as to the extent he might be financially worse off as a result of leaving his former business, the CCA said.

Some reduction in sentence must take into account that fact that he was being sentenced twice and the court was entitled to draw an inference that he must have suffered stress and trauma over and above the level which invariably results from involvement in the criminal process due the the appeal against leniency of the original sentence brought by the DPP.

While he had been ordered to pay €75,000 to his 27-year-old victim, the court said it was not taking into a separate civil settlement received by the victim.

At his original trial, while denying the charges, he admitted the attack but claimed he was overcome with an “irresistible urge” due to the combination of alcohol, cholesterol medicine and cough syrup.

He was released from prison in December 2012.

He now lives in the UK and " has been prevented from working in this country" because of adverse publicity, the court heard.

Last November, the three-judge appeal court found the six-month custodial sentence imposed on the 52-year-old for a violent sexual assault was “unduly lenient”.

The CCA, led by former Chief Justice Mr Justice John Murray, also heard that there has been "a significant effect" on his business .

The CCA re-heard the DPP's appeal against leniency due to the illness of a judge on the original three-member court hearing the case.

The DPP, in it's submissions, contended that the trial judge who suspended the vast bulk of a six year jail sentence  handed down to Mr Lyons did not place excessive reliance on the €75,000 in compensation he was ordered to pay his victim.

The DPP also argued that the trial judge who sentenced Mr Lyons in effect lost sight" of the gravity of the offence and placed "undue weight" on the compensation aspect of the case.

Today’s decision was delivery by Mr Justice Murray sitting with Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and Mr Justice Daniel Herbert.

During the initial appeal last November, the CCA heard that Lyons had suffered a “spectacular fall from grace”, and had had to leave the country.

Senior Counsel Patrick Gageby, representing the businessman, produced a number of reports indicating that the publicity surrounding the case had had a "punitive effect" on Lyons and his family.

He had not been in a position to stay in Ireland and when he holidayed abroad he had been photographed along with his then 15-year-old daughter, the CCA heard.

"My client can never be forgotten, he will always be notorious,"  Mr Gageby said.

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