Lyons appeal brought ‘stress and heartache’ - victim’s family
‘For us this is not remorse’, family says as businessman continued not guilty plea
Anthony Lyons arriving at the Four Courts for the judgment in the Court of Criminal Appeal taken by the DPP against the leniency of his sentence for sexual assault. Photograph: Collins Courts
The appeals process in the Anthony Lyons case has brought “severe stress and heartache” the family of the sexual assault victim , said in a statement today.
It was responding today to his return to prison after the Court of Criminal Appeal imposed a six year sentence with four years suspended, taking into account time already served.
The previous circuit court sentence of six years with 5 ½ suspended was today quashed by the three-judge court.
In a written statement issued outside the court, the family noted the word “sorry” was only mentioned once by his legal team and Lyons continued to plead not guilty. “For us this is not remorse. Far from it”, the statement said.
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.
In a written statement issued outside the court, the victim’s family thanked the gardaí and the Director of Public Prosecutions “who together brought Anthony Lyons to justice for this heinous crime”.
The decision of the three-judge court followed an appeal to the court by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The family said his crime was “at the higher end of the scale and warranted a sentence of up to ten years”. Prior to today he served “just four and a half months in prison for his vicious and brutal sex attack on our daughter which devastated our entire family,” the statement read.
The family noted that Dublin City Council had put new street lights in the area where the attack took place. The statement thanked relatives, neighbours and friends for their help through the “long and cruel journey”.
They particularly thanked the “two brave men who saved our daughter on that horrendous night on Griffith Avenue”. A passerby saw the attack on the woman from some distance away and shouted stop after which Lyons got up and ran away.
The Court of Criminal Appeal written judgement said it was “difficult to conclude that the fortuitous arrival of the passer-by at the scene did not play a decisive part in the decision of the respondent to desist at that stage”.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre described the extension of the sentence as a “significant societal marker” as it gave a broad welcome to the decision. It hoped the victim felt she had got justice, it said in a statement.
She had shown “enormous courage” for staying the course of the criminal justice system and had to wait four years for this day, chief executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop said.
Ms O’Malley-Dunlop said an area that needed reform was courts taking compensation into consideration as a mitigating factor in passing sentence. “Otherwise it would seem that if you have money that you can avoid a custodial sentence and if you don’t have money you got to prison,” she said.
The Court of Criminal Appeal judgment noted that the sexual assault had a “traumatic effect on the complainant and on her whole family”. It said her physical and emotional integrity was violated.
The judgement said that the “wanton and violent attack” on the woman on the public road which “included contact and digital penetration of her private parts” was an offence which required a “significant custodial sentence”, the length being tempered by mitigating circumstances.
The judgment said it would be a “long time” before the victim “ever feels she can walk to her home along a public street at night, if ever”.
These kind of offences “inculcate in women a sense of apprehension or even fear when walking quiet or lonely places on their own”, the judgment said.
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 deterrent”, the court judgment said.
The deterrent was not only for Lyons, who in this case was “unlikely to offend again but a deterrent to others tempted to commit similar crimes” they said.
“It would send out the wrong message to society if the custodial element and the totality of punishment did not reflect that”.
The written judgment by the Court of Criminal Appeal said the case “manifestly warranted a more significant custodial sentence” than the one of 6 months imposed by the trial judge ”notwithstanding the mitigating factors he was entitled to take into account”.
During the trial in 2012, the court heard the 27-year-old victim was walking home after a night out with her family on October 3rd 2010 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. Lyons was sentenced in 2012 to six years with 5 1/2 years suspended and was released from prison in December 2012.