Anthony Lyons paid €200,000 to woman he sexually assaulted
Amount emerged during rehearing of appeal against leniency of businessman’s sentence
A file photograph of Anthony Lyons leaving the Court of Criminal Appeal. The DPP is arguing the sentence he received for a sexual assault was too lenient. Photograph: Collins
he violently sexually assaulted under a settlement of a civil action taken by her, it was disclosed at the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday.
When sentencing Lyons the judge who heard the case ordered him to pay the victim €75,000. It is unclear if the €199,500 settlement including legal costs, of the High Court civil proceedings also included the €75,000. Lyons (53), of Griffith Avenue, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attacking and sexually assaulting the woman, then 27, in the early hours of October 3rd, 2010.
Lyons was ordered by Judge Desmond Hogan to pay his victim €75,000 in compensation.
The three-judge appeal court yesterday reserved its judgment on an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecution arguing the sentence of six years, with 5½ years suspended, imposed on Lyons by Judge Hogan in July 2012 was unduly lenient.
Mr Justice John Murray, presiding and sitting with Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and Mr Justice Daniel Herbert, said the compensation matter was relevant and was among the factors the court would take into account in its decision.
The matter was before the court arising from the fact the DPP had forwarded a letter to the appeal court, after it heard submissions on the appeal last month, outlining details of the settlement of the civil proceedings brought by the victim against Lyons.
When Caroline Biggs SC, for the DPP, said the victim had asked that the amount of the settlement sum reached in the civil proceedings not be disclosed in open court, Mr Justice Murray said this was a public court and the Constitution required justice to be administered in public.
ResponsibilityWhile he could understand the views of the complainant, the DPP had a responsibility to the court and public under the Constitution, the judge said. The Court of Criminal Appeal had not been told of the civil settlement amount when hearing submissions on the appeal and the DPP’s letter had been received after that hearing.
The judge then outlined that the civil settlement was for €199,500 and it was confirmed to the court that sum was inclusive of legal costs.
The judge said the fact of the compensation was a relevant matter which had now been proven and could only be proved in open court. This was one of the matters the court would take into account when considering its judgment.
In November 2013, a differently constituted Court of Criminal Appeal ruled the sentence imposed was “unduly lenient” but reserved the reasons for its judgment and on what sentence should be imposed in its place.
However, due to the illness of one of the appeal court judges, Mr Justice Michael Hanna, the court later had to be reconstituted and the appeal reheard.
In submissions during that rehearing last May, Ms Biggs argued the sentence imposed was “unduly lenient” in all the circumstances. Although the sentencing judge referred to the long-lasting effect of the attack on the victim and her family and its psychological effects as set out in the victim impact report, he did not give practical effect to these matters, she argued.
The sentence should reflect the gravity of the offence, effect on the victim and society as a whole and a need not only for specific but general deterrence, counsel said.
Two factors – compensation and the issue of remorse – were given inappropriate consideration, she argued.
Patrick Gageby SC, for Lyons, said the matter was not disposed of just by compensation but a very substantial period of suspended sentence was also imposed.
This offence was a unique piece of criminal activity in his 51st year by a man of previously good character, he said.
Unique characteristicsWhile not arguing character trumps jail or the gravity of an offence, there were also a number of unique characteristics such as the absence of previous convictions and a “completely blameless” life involving charity work and other aspects, counsel argued.
The trial court heard the victim was walking home after a night out with her family when she was approached from behind by Lyons who “rugby-tackled” her to the ground on a dark stretch of road.
The court was told Lyons attempted to take the victim’s mobile phone, and attempted to stop her calling out by putting his hand over her mouth and around her neck.
The victim said she was groped and digitally penetrated during the attack until a passerby came to her aid.
Gardaí were alerted and Lyons was arrested nearby.
He initially denied the offence but months later gave a statement to gardaí admitting the attack but claiming he was overcome with an “irresistible urge” brought on by cholesterol medication.