Thursday, 2 August 2012

'For Evil to Triumph...'

It is said that Lady Justice is blind, recent discussions have led me to believe that perhaps she is deaf too and seemingly defended in her shortcomings.

On the 3rd of October 2010, Anthony Lyons viciously, sexually assaulted a young woman on her way home on Griffith Avenue. He approached her from behind asked her 'Are you going to get home safely' and proceeded to 'rugby tackle' her to the ground and drag her into the bushes where he pinned her down and sexually assaulted her. During his grievous attack, Mr Lyons attempted to rape his victim but was interrupted by passers by and fled the scene.

Late last week, Mr Lyons' case came to court, he freely admitted to attacking the young woman with the intention to rape her but blamed his 'uncontrollable urges' on a concoction of cough syrup, alcohol and cholesterol medication (a defence that was refuted by the jury).

Upon hearing that the jury found Mr Lyons guilty of this attack and describing the offence as 'on the upper severity of the scale', Mr Justice Desmond Hogan, instead of the 10 year sentencing applicable, handed down a sentence of 6 years. To further compound the injustice, he then suspended 5 and half years of that sentence, instead ordering the multi millionaire business man to pay compensation in the amount of €75,000 and serve only 6 months behind bars. That's one twentieth the applicable sentence with a simple signature. This is both unduly lenient and abhorrent, in my opinion. Mr Lyons has effectively bought his way out of prison time.

Justifiably, this judgement and sentencing have caused outrage with the Irish public, for the most part. The victim's grandmother has commented that 'Money Talks' and I couldn't agree with her more.

There are many, many issues I have with this judgement. The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre have fought tirelessly to advocate on behalf of sexually assaulted men and women since 1979, this 'Money in lieu of custodial time' has done untold, perhaps irrevocable damage to their efforts to see justice for victims of serious sexual assault in this country. It reiterates the notion that the affluent members of our society are basically given carte blanche to act as they see fit, regardless of the life altering effects on others, once they have their chequebook to hand.

While commenting, to that effect and stating that I had written to Alan Shatter (Our Minister for Justice) (Who's email is by the way) about my concerns and disgust at the handling of this case on yesterday's Blather on, I was met with a strange (to me) reaction. Another commenter is of the opinion that voicing outrage at such injustices is 'A waste of a stamp', 'I’m not saying that you can’t speak up about it, it’s just that it’s useless writing off to the Minister apout it.' I couldn't disagree more and so 
my question(s) is this...

Should we not speak up when something so morally corrupt is happening in front of our eyes? Is it futile to voice outrage at the injustice and the seeming impunity with which violent crimes are committed against Irish women?

I understand that this is an emotive subject and pretty far removed from the usual lipstick/movie madness around these parts but I would truly like to hear your opinion. Have a read of the Blather (linked above) and do please let me know your thoughts, I'd really appreciate it. 

PS. I've added a poll in the sidebar, 
if you don't want to comment
but do want your opinion heard
do please click on your choice. 


Scarie said...

Brilliant brilliant post. Of course we need to stand up for what is right! The judicial system is messed up . Will dm on twitter x

Karen said...

Absolutely brilliant post Sue. I was absolutely shocked that another person would actually encourage people not to bother writing to the Minister so as not to waste a stamp.... It's disgusting that someone can essentially buy their way out of a sentence and for someone to sit back and accept that just boggles my mind and I just don't get it. Public outrage has weight.

Fantastic post missus.

laura said...

Sue,saw your post on the blather yesterday ånd couldnt agree with you more. disgusting that an animal like Antony lyons gets to buy his way out of jail sentence- 6 months sentence? He will probably serve 2 ånd that poor innocent victim has to live with the horror of what he did to her for the rest of her life. is it any wonder sexual assaults ånd rape are underreported when the judicial system makes å mockery of the victim (such as this lady) .as for his defence,cholesterol medication? as å pharmacist i can assure anyone that this is å load of rubbish.well done for writing to the minister.Brilliant post x

likemamusedtobake said...

I have been following this case Sue and am absolutely disgusted by the lack of justice. This man knows full well that he has done wrong and is using an excuse of alcohol/medication to diminish its severity. The judge in this case however is just as bad. To be swayed by the fact that this man has the means to pay compensation and reduce the sentence so considerably is infuriating. What good is that money to the victim, it will bring her no comfort, the only thing that will bring her any sense of justice is for this animal to serve a full sentence for the crime that he consciously chose to commit. Another case of one rule for the rich boys and another for the rest of the population. In contrast my dad told me of a case of a man being jailed for 3 years in relation to a tax evasion of €180. Yes, one hundred and eighty. The justice system in this country is a farce.

Anonymous said...

I know how difficult it is to report a crime like that in the first place, I know how it can tear a family and any other relationships you have to shreds, I know how it can eat you from the inside out, tear you up and spit you out. The fact that there are not harsher sentences for sex offenders. The legal system is screwed to a frightening degree.
Money should not be seen to be exchanged for freedom but let's call a spade a spade, that is exactly what has been happening.

Fantastic post CherrySue, and no, most definitely NOT a waste of a stamp. I for one, would thank you for sticking up for something like this.

Sera xx

Anonymous said...

Great post, Sue! Yes, we should be writing to Alan Shatter to express our rage that a convicted sex offender will be back on our streets in no less than 6 months, in reality more like 4 months. Not only that, his suspended sentence will only be reactivated if he re-offends in the two years, not the six years of the full sentence.

Money talks!

mummypupper said...

Every time I hear of such a gross miscarriage of justice I think of the poor "garlic man"who was sentenced to six years imprisonment!!!And this guy gets off practically scott free!!What a joke and a total insult to right thinking people everywhere.

Actionmags L said...

Great post sue - your right money does talk and I was thinking of garlic man too - there is also no way that that
Man hasn't done something similar before . The whole thing will stop women from reporting rapes

Sinead said...

Well done Cherrysue for taking action! I am spurred on by your article to contact Alan Shatter too and express my disgust at the outcome of this trial. That comment about wasting a stamp was totally ridiculous. There are numerous occurences of things being over turned by the power of the pen. Didnt it happen last year, when the government tried to reduce the disability payment to some people, and Enda Kenny went and apologised to a young boy over it.

Why did money ever come into this sentence?! How did a judge think that money was going to compensate the victim? It's like blood money! If he was sentenced to 10 years and as an extra part of the sentence he was ordered to give the money to the Rape Crisis Centre, it might make some bit of sense. But even at that, the sentence should be based on the crime, not on the income of the defendant.

I am raging. I will have to put that rage into the email and hopefully someone in charge will realise that we do have a voice.

Kellie Molloy said...

I completely agree! I'm thinking of doing Law and Politics in college and this is exactly the kind of thing I'll be hoping to change when I get older! I couldn't believe it when I heard! That poor woman! If I was her now I'd take his check and shove it up you-know-where! Really, when we think this country is getting better, something like this makes us a mockery again and throws us back to the Stone Age!

Absolutely disgraceful. That judge should be ashamed of himself....

Anne-Marie said...

Well said Sue

Le Smurf said...

I wrote a letter and sent it last night after your posts yesterday evening Sue. I honestly couldnt agree more with everything you said and was really disappointed at the "waste of a stamp" attitude too!

That poor girl could be me or my sister and she absolutely deserves our support in the only way we can support her as total strangers. After such a senseless attack she deserves the peace of mind knowing that he is behind bars for a good long time!

Claire Sarah Kane said...

It would be impossible to argue against anything in this post. Well done, Sue.

Ali said...

I don't live in Ireland, but I do know it was very late in recognizing women's rights. I seem to recall it was as late as the mid 1970s that a married woman in Ireland could not legally hold a job outside of the home. Things like birth control and family planning were "underground". Women seeking to terminate a pregnancy had to travel quietly to England to have it done. I wonder if the sentencing in this case is simply a reflection of the attitude some jurists still hold with regards to women.

'On the upper severity of the scale" to me doesn't translate into a fine and a token term of incarceration.

Anonymous said...

Go CherrySue! With you all the way... :)


Anonymous said...

While I agree this case is a joke I do think you are being a little unfair to the poster on the blather as you are not giving her a chance to explain here. Have you told her about this post? It may be unpalatable but your letter is unlikely to be read by the Minister which may be what the poster meant. Also, I wholly disagree with government interfering with the judciary which is what I think the poster was trying to say.

CherrySue said...

Thanks so much for your comments everyone, they're hugely appreciated x

CherrySue said...

Hi there Anon, I'm not sure how you mean I'm being unfair? This post isn't about the poster on the Blather, instead it is about differing attitudes towards cases like this and my genuine interest in peoples' opinions. I haven't told him about this post for that very reason, it's not about him, I merely pointed to a different opinion that led to me writing this post. Though I am working on a post for on the same topic.
I never suggested the Government interfere with the judiciary either, my degree is in Government Management so I'm more than familiar with how the system works, or doesn't in this case.
My point is that we shouldn't lay down and accept outrageously unjust rulings, like this one, that make a mockery of our justice system and do nothing to protect the vulnerable in our society, the very reason they're employed in the first place.

Lorraine said...

Nail on the head again, Sue.

Anonymous said...

Honey, I agree so so strongly.
We all have to keep speaking out against this kind of injustice, and you've done so twice, both here and with your letter. Even if we cant change the sentence, we need to make sure our voices are heard - heard by politicians, heard by sex offenders, heard by judges - and most importantly, heard by victims of sexual abuse, who might be afraid to come forward. They need to know we're on their side. And when that bastard googles his own name, I want him to see post after post about what a scumbag he is.
I was so outraged at this case I wrote a long and angry post about it on my own blog, and my biggest hope would be that someday the girl who was attacked might see my blog, and know how much support she has
Maybe she'll see yours, and know how much support she's got from you
You've done a good thing here
Don't ever stop speaking out

Heather! said...

Your actions do not need to have an immediate response or effect immediate change for them to be good or just. Of course it is not just important, but VITAL that we speak out against any injustice anywhere. That one letter might be a 'waste of a stamp' on its own, but if there's an ocean of stamps pouring into a person's office...well, that's hard to ignore. Besides, doing what your soul needs to do is never a waste, and well worth the price of a stamp.

MsDarkFairy88 said...

I agree with you 100% Sue!! It is absolutely appalling the way rape cases are treated in Ireland. So many cases have gone through the courts where a girl(or man)'s life has been completely and hideously turned upside down because of rape and all they get is a few months(if even) in jail and a bit of a fine. This is not ok! And don't get me started on child abuse! Someone close to me was abused and reported it as an adult. He admitted openly in court to it and all he got was a suspended sentence and a mark on his record. That's it! He admitted to child abuse and that's the punishment he got. Just sickening. I think writing is the way to go. Yes it may not be read but you feel better and if enough people do it, they might just start paying attention! These things have to start with one person, thanks for been that person Sue!

CherrySue said...

Thank you so much for your comment, I have just read your post: and agree with every single word you've written. I'll be an avid follower from now on x

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue, thanks for your reply. I suppose my point was it is often very difficult to verbalise a point in a comment and I felt the person may have had valid points that warranted consideration. I understand you didn't want to make your post about one person but I stand by my belief that they should have at least been informed. However, I really don't disagree with anything else you have said and I think you have written a very informed piece. I don't read that site anymore as I feel it has gone very elitist and I rightly or wrongly took you mentioning the poster at all as another example of this.

boredmum said...

Hi Sue

Was reading the blather the other day when you 1st posted about this case, i was also shocked at one of the responses, i think you are so right to contact the minister in regards to this case, the victim and her family must be absolutely disgusted at the sentence,

It is a brave thing to have to admit you have been assaulted and to have the strength to try and get justice, not just for yourself but for all the other women who, for whatever their reasons, cant. And then to have that sentence given because he has money, its disgusting, i too will be voicing my concerns in a strongly worded email, thanks for highlighting this case

Eadaoin said...

Great post Sue, you were absolutely right to send a letter, if we don't make an effort to voice our opinions then how will our government ever know that we are not happy with the way things are being run. Opinions like 'it was a waste of a stamp' are so frustrating. Someone once commented to me that they didn't see the point of 'dancing in the street' when I told them I was joining some of the protests against the war in Iraq all those years ago. It's not that you know you'll change the world with one little letter, or one street protest, but sitting idly by while feeling so strongly that something is wrong is beyond frustrating and it's important to put a voice to our fears and disgust. Otherwise we just turn into armchair/keyboard warriors, venting our frustrations but never doing anything about it.

I'm glad to see you speaking out about this terrible ruling. You'll inspire the readers who come here to do the same, or at the very least to give some deep thought to a disturbing issue. I was shocked to hear about this sentence too, and hope that the disgust registering across the country will mean that nothing like it happens again. I really feel for this girl and her family, they must feel so disheartened with our justice system.

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