Convicted sex attacker Anthony Lyons had to leave his home to live and work in England after his release from prison because of media attention on him and his family, it was claimed before the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday.
Counsel for Lyons said the 52-year old businessman — sentenced to six years with five-and-a-half years suspended for the sexual assault of a 27-year-old woman three years ago near his home — was a decent, hardworking man who was thought very highly of before his “very public and spectacular fall from grace”.
However, Patrick Gageby SC said: “The level of publicity has marked him almost as an outlaw in an age when such a concept seems medieval.”
Mr Lyons had also been excluded from his golf club and the aviation broker had to withdraw from his aviation business.
Lyons was in court yesterday when his counsel urged the court, in assessing sentence, to consider the totality of the hardship, not just on him but on his innocent wife and four children who had been subjected to intense publicity, particularly from tabloids, some of which referred to him as a fiend, beast, and a monster.
The Court of Criminal Appeal will decide later what further sentence should be imposed on a businessman who sexually assaulted a young woman as she walked home one night in 2010. The court had ruled earlier this month the sentence given to Mr Lyons in July 2012 was too lenient.
The DPP appealed the leniency of the sentence and although he has since served the six months, he faces being returned to prison on foot of the appeal court’s sentencing decision.
Mr Gageby said the publicity surrounding the Lyons case included unwarranted attention on his client’s family, involving pictures of their home and of the four children, two girls and two boys.
The eldest son, aged 22, complained of his mother being “hounded by the media,” including being followed to school to collect her youngest son, aged 10.
An expert had reviewed the media coverage, which included a picture in the Mail of the eldest son and a personal college email address.
The Mail on Sunday had a piece in which the family were pictured on holidays in Dubai shortly after Lyons was released from his sentence. One photo included Mr Lyons with his then 15-year-old daughter, counsel said.
Efforts were made to contact the older children through Facebook. The 19-year-old daughter had been emailed by a journalist who appeared to show empathy for their situation, but she realised this was just a ruse once the journalist started asking if her father had bought her a car.
The younger daughter, now 16, said a local man followed her on the bus and home from school, and one day drove very fast very close to her as she was about to get into her mother’s car in what she described as a very scary incident.
The children complained that a lot of taxis were either parked outside the house at various times or drove very slowly past it for no apparent reason.
Ten days after his release from prison, their father had to leave home to live and work in England, such was the attention, and because he nearly had a serious car accident due to the harassment, counsel said.
He said Lyons was subject to the sex offenders register in Britain and had to withdraw from his aviation business and that his conviction had a severe effect on the business, which had suffered a significant reputational loss. He could not even perform a back-office role and had been excluded from a golf club he had played in.
Caroline Biggs SC, for the DPP, accepted that undue media attention could be a mitigating factor. She said, however, the court had to take into account the seriousness and aggravating factors of this case, including the time of night the attack was perpetrated (2.30am), the level of violence used, that the victim’s dress was pulled down, and that she was digitally penetrated.
While there was no updated victim impact report, the DPP asked that the original one also be considered.
Mr Justice Murray said the court would notify the parties when it intends to give its decision.
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