Thursday 21 February 2019

Lyons tells court of his ‘spectacular’ fall from grace

Convicted sex attacker Anthony Lyons says he had to leave country and golf club since his conviction

BUSINESSMAN and convicted sex attacker Anthony Lyons has suffered a “spectacular fall from grace”, and has had to leave the country, the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) heard earlier today.

Legal representatives for Lyons also the court their client has been “forced” out of his golf club since his conviction for the sexual assault of an innocent woman.

Judgment in the case to increase the sentencing was reserved by the three judge CCA.

The aviation broker had his case adjourned at the CCA today after the DPP brought a challenge against a six-month sentence that had been imposed by the trial judge.

The court deferred its decision to a later date after Lyons's barrister argued that he and his family had suffered a "punitive" level of media coverage since his conviction.

The court heard statements from three of the businessman's children in which they alleged that they had been "hounded" by the press.

Anthony Lyons pictured arriving at The Four Courts today.
Anthony Lyons pictured arriving at The Four Courts today.

Evidence was also heard that Lyons had been suffered reputational damage in a "spectacular fall from grace", being forced out of his golf club and to leave the country.

The court was told he had crashed his car because of press "stalking" on one occasion and that his relationship with his wife had been affected.

Last week, the three-judge court upheld an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) against the length of the sentence handed down by Judge Desmond Hogan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Judge Hogan had controversially suspended five and a half years of a six-year jail term and ordered Lyons to pay his victim €75,000 in compensation.

Lyons, of Griffith Avenue, Drumcondra, had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the woman on October 3, 2010.

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

Last week, Mr Justice John L Murray told the appeal court the mitigating factors could not justify the sentence given the gravity of the offence.

Today, Patrick Gageby SC, for Lyons, 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.

Mr Gageby outlined statements made by Lyons's three children - his 22-year-old son, and his 16 and 19-year-old daughters, as well as his sister in law

While in the UK, Lyons was subject to the Sex Offenders’ register and a report from the Metropolitan Police stated that he was considered "low risk" and had been fully compliant with requirements.

Professionally, the effect of the conviction and the "interest that journalists have had" in the affairs of his company meant he had to "resile from any front of house activity".

The "very significant reputational loss" extended to his social life, and he had to leave his golf club after being told his membership would be withdrawn otherwise.

"It was a very spectacular fall from grace, a very public fall from grace with a level of publicity that has marked him almost as an outlaw in an age where such conduct seems almost mediaeval," Mr Gageby said.

Caroline Biggs SC, for the DPP, said it was accepted that adverse media coverage could be taken as mitigation but added that an offender must be held up for criticism by the press.

She said the DPP viewed the assault as being at the higher end of the scale for such offences and pointed to violence used as an aggravating factor.

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