Anita Downey murder: Son rejects claim father was trying to staunch flow of blood

David Lyness denies the murder of Anita Downey in January last year
David Lyness denies the murder of Anita Downey in January last year

A teenager who claims he witnessed his father attempting to ‘chop off’ the head of his former fiancee has rejected a defence suggestion that his father was “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 52-year-old David Lyness, who denies murdering his 51-year-old girlfriend Anita Downey 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?” Mr Greene asked the teenager.

“No,” he replied, adding: “He wasn’t doing that.”

“What was he doing?” asked Mr Greene again.

“Cutting her,” said the teenager.

Several other suggestions about what he actually saw were put to the teenager, before, in conclusion of his cross-examination, Mr Greene returned to the question, suggesting to the teenager: “What you saw was your father trying to stop the flow of blood from Anita’s neck.”

“No,” he 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, and that afterwards Lyness allegedly threatened to kill himself rather than go to jail.

Earlier 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, he said he couldn’t remember when, and although he also accepted that their “relationship was over”, the teenager 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 video-taped interview, and what he’d said to other police beforehand.

Concerning his videoed interview, the teen claimed: “It was as accurate as it could be”, and agreed that the account he gave was “clear in your mind”.

The defence lawyer suggested to him that his mind may have been affected by seeing the injuries on Ms Downey and because of that “you assumed your father did this terrible thing”.

“No. I witnessed it with my own two eyes,” he replied.

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

“It was traumatic ... I was distressed and distraught and I might have got a few things mixed up,” he said, before adding later: “I got a few minor things mixed up, but I know what I saw.”

However, the teenager said he “didn’t remember” telling another officer that Ms Downey had “slapped” his dad, and that she had “lashed out” at him.

At hearing.