Rape crisis groups have welcomed the decision by the DPP to appeal the leniency of the sentence handed down to businessman Anthony Lyons for sexual assault which could see him free after four-and-a-half months.
Legal sources said the appeal could take over a year to be heard, although in some cases priority can be given for an earlier hearing.
Lyons, a 51-year-old married father, was sentenced to six years for sexually assaulting a woman, but five and a half were suspended.
With standard remission, Lyons will serve four-and-a-half months of his six-month custodial term.
At the sentencing on Jul 30, Judge Desmond Hogan also ordered the aviation broker to pay €75,000 in compensation to the victim.
Although he admitted the attack, Lyons had pleaded not guilty, claiming he was overcome with an “irresistible urge” caused by a combination of cholesterol medication and alcohol.
The jury at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court rejected this excuse and found him guilty of the attack.
The assault took place on Oct 3, 2010, on Griffith Avenue, north Dublin.
The Courts Service has confirmed the DPP lodged papers with the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday appealing the sentence on grounds of undue leniency.
Both family members and the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) had stron-gly criticised the sentence.
Reacting to the news, a spokeswoman for the RCNI said: “We called for the DPP to review it and we are delighted to hear the DPP is going to appeal.”
According to the DPP’s guide on the criminal justice system, the DPP can ask the Court of Criminal Appeal to review a sentence that it believes is “unduly lenient”.
The guide says the CCA will not increase a sentence just because it thinks the sentence is on the light side and will only increase the sentence if it thinks the judge was wrong in law in giving such a sentence.
The guide says: “The judges will read the written record of the trial to see the trial judge’s reasons for giving a particular sentence. They will consider a sentence unduly lenient only if they believe the trial judge made a mistake on a legal point.”
As well as the written transcripts of the trial, both the prosecution and defence can make submissions, both written and oral.
At the sentencing, Judge Hogan said there was “no doubt” that the attack by Lyons was a serious offence but he said Lyons had “expressed remorse, has been of hitherto of good character, is well regarded and is unlikely to re-offend”.
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