Lyons sent back to prison for 18 months for sexual assault

Businessman Anthony Lyons bows head as sentence increased after DPP appeal

Anthony Lyons: the aviation broker attacked and sexually assaulted a 27-year-old woman near his home on Griffith Avenue, Dublin, in October 2010. Photograph: Collins Courts

Anthony Lyons: the aviation broker attacked and sexually assaulted a 27-year-old woman near his home on Griffith Avenue, Dublin, in October 2010. Photograph: Collins Courts

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 01:00

Convicted businessman Anthony Lyons bowed his head yesterday when a judge said he must return to prison to serve another 18 months in addition to six months already served for sexual assault.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had appealed against the leniency of the sentence.

The aviation broker – given an effective six-month sentence in July 2012 for attacking and sexually assaulting a 27-year-old woman near his home on Griffith Avenue, Dublin, in the early hours of October 3th, 2010 – was told by Mr Justice John Murray he was to go back to prison immediately.

At his trial, he pleaded not guilty but was convicted and received a six-year sentence with 5½ suspended, meaning he got an effective six months.  After serving that sentence, he was released in December 2012. Yesterday, after considering the claim by the DPP that the sentence was unduly lenient, the Court of Criminal Appeal said the correct sentence should be six years with four suspended.

Taking into account the six months already served, he has another 18 months to serve.

The appeal court said trial judge Desmond Hogan acknowledged the seriousness and gravity of the offence and addressed a range of mitigating factors.

The DPP had argued undue leniency because Judge Hogan attached undue weight to those factors, one of which was a compensation order of €75,000 for the victim.

It was the view of the appeal court that the trial judge erred in attaching undue weight to the “totality of the mitigating factors”. On that basis, the original sentence was quashed and in considering afresh the sentence to be imposed, the appeal court had regard to the seriousness of the offence, the impact on the victim, the relevant mitigating factors before the trial court and any further factors which had arisen since then.

Settlement

The appeal court had been told the victim had received a substantial sum in settlement of a separate civil action against Lyons but the appeal court did not consider this is a relevant mitigating factor.

The totality of hardship included time already served in prison, the fact that he must remain a registered sex offender for 10 years and that he had suffered permanent damage to his business and livelihood. It also included that he had been forced to live abroad because of the “exceptional form of sensational attack on his reputation in certain quarters of the media”.

His family had to endure journalists knocking on the door at all hours of the night, questioning relatives and neighbours, “photographing through windows as well a photographing his children while on holidays”.  However, the appeal court judges said, the “prime responsibility” for negative consequences and opprobrium lay clearly with Lyons.

The consequences for the victim were traumatic and tragic and she was “emotionally devastated” by the attack which not only affected her but her family, the appeal court said.

Walk safely

It will be a long time, if ever, before she feels she can walk safely to her home along a public street at night, the appeal court said. This was a fear that not just affects the victim but one which instils fear in every woman who walks in a public area which is quiet without others around.

This was one of the reasons why in such cases, a sentence, or a totality of punishment involving a significant custodial element, is important for the purpose of deterring others.