Anthony Lyons paid €199k to sex assault victim

Thursday 10 July 2014 19.46
Anthony Lyons had denied attacking and sexually assaulting a woman in  October 2010
Anthony Lyons had denied attacking and sexually assaulting a woman in October 2010

Businessman Anthony Lyons has paid almost €200,000 compensation under a settlement of a civil action taken by a woman he violently sexually assaulted, the Court of Criminal Appeal has heard.

Lyons, 53, from Griffith Avenue in Dublin, had denied attacking and sexually assaulting a then 27-year-old woman in the early hours of 3 October 2010.

The Director of Public Prosecutions is appealing the six-year sentence, with five and half years suspended, on grounds that it was unduly lenient.

The three-judge appeal court today reserved its judgment on the appeal.

Caroline Biggs SC, for the DPP, said the victim had asked that the settlement sum reached in the civil proceedings not be disclosed in open court.

However, Mr Justice John Murray, presiding, said this was a public court and justice had to be administered in public.

While he could understand the views of the complainant, the DPP had a responsibility to the public, the judge said.

He then outlined that the sum involved was €199,500 and it was confirmed to the court that sum was inclusive of legal costs.

It is unclear if the €199,500 sum was made separately to €75,000 ordered by the Circuit Criminal Court.

The judge said the fact of the compensation was a relevant matter that 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 had ruled the sentence imposed was "unduly lenient" but reserved the reasons for its judgment and later reserved its decision 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 has had to be reconstituted and the appeal re-heard.

In submissions during that re-hearing last May, Ms Biggs for the DPP argued the sentence imposed on Lyons was "unduly lenient".

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, the effect on the victim and society as a whole and a need not only for specific but general deterrence.

Two factors - compensation and the issue of remorse - were given inappropriate consideration, she said.

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, counsel added.

While 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.

The trial court heard the victim was walking home after a family night out 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 - with which she had earlier struck him on the head - 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 passer-by came to her aid, causing Lyons to flee.

Gardaí were immediately alerted and Lyons was arrested nearby.

He initially denied the offence but several months later gave a statement to gardaí admitting the attack but claiming he was overcome with an "irresistible urge" brought on by cholesterol medication he had started taking the day before.

He was released from prison in December 2012.