Belfast Telegraph

No jail term long enough for Anita’s killer, says ex-husband

By Ashleigh McDonald

The ex-husband of a murdered mother of three has called for her killer to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

It came after David Lyness was jailed for at least 18 years for the brutal murder of Anita Downey in Lurgan.

Mrs Downey (51), also from Lurgan, bled to death on the floor of Lyness's Toberhewny Hall home in the early hours of January 20 last year.

Yesterday her former husband Stephen Downey was in court to watch 52-year-old Lyness handed a minimum sentence of 18 years for the brutal killing.

During the trial earlier this year, Lyness's own son gave evidence against him.

Afterwards, Mr Downey said no jail term would be long enough and the family would have preferred the death penalty.

"It's never enough for the family, but the judge was very fair, the judge was very good," he said.

"I would like to thank the judge, the legal team, Shane Lyness (David Lyness's son) for giving the evidence and the strength of the family to keep us together, to get through this."

Saying he didn't feel that justice has been done, Mr Downey branded Lyness a "very, very bad man who committed numerous crimes over a long time".

Asked about the length of the sentence, he added: "Honestly, my children would like the death penalty but there is no death penalty, so life imprisonment - meaning he doesn't get out at all - would be better for us and the community, because he is a dangerous person."

Mr Downey branded Lyness a "monster", and said there was "no reason" for Mrs Downey's death. He added: "He should never be allowed out on the street again."

The father-of-three spoke of the devastating impact the murder has had on the family circle, and described his ex-wife as "the happiest person you could ever meet... she was a ray of sunshine on a cloudy da y."

Mrs Downey's cousin Christine Lavery said she was distraught at the loss of her "best friend".

"We have been left totally devastated - Anita's father, sister, her two brothers left without a sister," she said.

Ms Lavery also paid tribute to Mrs Downey's three children - Jamie, Rebecca and Christian - and the wider family circle, as well as thanking the police.

She said: "It's awful what he did to her. On a personal level, I'm distraught. I've lost not only my cousin, but my best friend."

Detective Inspector David McGrory welcomed the sentence, saying: "Eighteen years is a great sentence, and this was a very cold and callous killing. Lyness's callousness was summed up in him making his own son give evidence, and we commend Shane Lyness for this.

"David Lyness is a dangerous man and deserves to be in jail for 18 years."

Belfast Telegraph

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