Belfast Telegraph

Dad was cutting at her neck, son of accused tells murder trial

By Michael Donnelly

A teenager who claims he witnessed his father trying to "chop off" the head of the 52-year-old's ex-fiancee has rejected suggestions his dad was actually "trying to stop the flow of blood" from her neck.

The teenager was being cross-examined by defence QC Richard Greene at the trial of his father David Lyness, who denies murdering Anita Downey (51) in his Toberhewny Hall home in Lurgan on January 20 last year.

"Was your father trying to stop the flow of blood, do you remember that?" asked Mr Greene of the teenager.

"No," he replied. "He wasn't doing that".

"What was he doing?" asked Mr Greene.

"Cutting her," said the son.

Several other possibilities about what he actually saw were put to the teenager, before Mr Greene suggested: "What you saw was your father trying to stop the flow of blood from Anita's neck."

"No," the son replied. "That wasn't the case."

The Crown Court trial has already heard that Ms Downey had her throat cut back to her spine, which also severed her jugular vein.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Greene asked the teenager about the relationship between his father and Ms Downey, and whether his dad had told him his former girlfriend had attacked him with a pair of scissors.

While agreeing he had been told this, the teenager said he couldn't remember when, and although he also accepted that the pair's "relationship was over", he said he had never heard of Ms Downey attacking his father with a knife, or that he was "afraid of Anita".

Mr Greene then began to ask the teenager about what he had told police during his videotaped interview, and what he had said to other officers beforehand.

The teen claimed his filmed interview "was as accurate as it could be".

However, the defence lawyer suggested that his mind may have been affected by seeing Ms Downey's injuries and because of that, "you assumed your father did this terrible thing".

"No. I witnessed it with my own two eyes," came the reply.

Mr Greene also suggested to the teenager that there were differences within his videoed interview and his descriptions of what had happened.

"I was distressed and distraught and I might have got a few things mixed up," he said. He added later: "I got a few minor things mixed up, but I know what I saw."

However, the son said he "didn't remember" telling another officer that Ms Downey had "slapped" his dad, and that she had "lashed out" at him.

Mr Greene suggested at one stage that what the teenager saw was his father and Ms Downey "struggling" over her handbag, because she had taken off her engagement ring and placed it in the bag, and his dad wanted it.

"I don't think so. I have no memory of that," said the teenager. Any difference in what he may have said about what his father did just prior to allegedly 'cutting' Ms Downey's neck was "a minor error", he said.

At hearing.

Belfast Telegraph

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