Anthony Lyons will ‘always be notorious’, appeal court told
DPP says sentences must not only deter accused but also impose a general deterrence
Anthony Lyons leaving the Court of Criminal Appeal today. The DPP appealed the leniency of the sentence in which Lyons (53) of Griffith Avenue, Drumcondra, was sentenced to six years, with five and a half suspended for sexually assaulting a woman. Photograph: Collins
Businessman Anthony Lyons, who received a six-month custodial sentence for a violent sexual assault, will “never be forgotten” and will “always be notorious”, the Court of Criminal Appeal has heard.
The three-judge court today heard submissions in a re-hearing of an appeal against the undue leniency of a sentence of six years with five-and-a-half years suspended imposed on Lyons (53) by Judge Desmond Hogan in July 2012.
The respondent, the owner of an aircraft leasing company from Griffith Avenue in Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attacking and sexually assaulting a then 27-year-old woman in the early hours of the morning of October 3rd, 2010.
Lyons was ordered by Judge Hogan to pay his victim €75,000 in compensation.
In November last year the appeal court found that the sentence imposed was “unduly lenient” but reserved the reasons for its judgement and later reserved its decision on what sentence should be imposed in its place.
However, due to the illness of sitting judge Mr Justice Michael Hanna, the court had to be reconstituted and the appeal re-heard.
Counsel for the State, Ms Caroline Biggs SC, today told the appeal court it was the Director of Public Prosecution’s submission that the sentence imposed was on Lyons “unduly lenient” in all the circumstances.
She said it was the suspension of five-and-a-half years of a six-year sentence that was of concern to the Director.
With regard to the compensation matter, Ms Biggs said Section 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 1993 was envisaged as a process where a plaintiff did not have to through civil proceedings if the compensation paid was to the satisfaction of all parties.
She submitted that its weight as a mitigating factor depended on all the circumstances of the case, and the court must look at all of these.
Ms Biggs said the primary submission of the Director was that, notwithstanding the mitigating factors in the case, by suspending five-and-a-half years of the sentence the court “lost sight of the gravity of the offence, lost sight of the effect on the victim and the effect on society”.
She said that 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.
Counsel submitted there was a need not only to impose a sentence that reflected the gravity of the offence, but also the effect on the victim and society as a whole, as well as a need not only for specific but general deterrence.
She said the sentence must not only deter the accused himself but must impose a general deterrence.
Ms Biggs said there were two factors – compensation and the issue of remorse – which it was submitted were given inappropriate consideration. Counsel said that a plea of not guilty was not an aggravating factor but did amount to a loss of mitigation.
Mr Gageby told the court that the matter was not disposed of by way of a compensation order and a very substantial period of suspended sentence was imposed.
He submitted that this was not a case in which it could be properly said that the trial judge placed excessive reliance on the compensation aspect.
Mr Gaegby said the offence had been a unique piece of criminal activity in his 51st year by a man of previously good character.
Counsel said he was not trying to say that character trumps jail or the gravity of an offence, but 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.