‘A ray of sunshine on a cloudy day’ - Anita Downey was a loving mum, daughter and sister - a girl everyone loved.
Her cruel and brutal murder devastated her family, friends and the entire Lurgan community in January last year.
And as the case against her killer David Lyness progressed, the details of that brutality sickened and horrified everyone.
Mrs Downey’s ex-husband Stephen branded Lyness a “very, very bad man who committed numerous crimes over a long time”. He described Anita as “the happiest person you could ever meet... she was a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.” Mr Downey also praised the judge but said no jail term would be long enough.
“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.”
Anita’s cousin Christine Lavery said the family have been left “totally devastated”.
“It’s awful what he did to her. I’m distraught. I have lost not only my cousin, but my best friend.”
The PSNI said it was a ‘ harrowing incident’ for the officers and paramedics on scene.
Detective Inspector McGrory who lead the investigation said: “Anita was a loving mother of three, a devoted daughter and loyal sister. Anita was murdered on 20th January 2017 when David Lyness in an acohol-fuelled rage savagely beat and then attacked her with a knife and deliberately cut her throat in his home in Lurgan. David Lyness was sentenced for brutally taking Anita’s life and is now in jail, exactly where he deserves to be. “Anita’s last moments would have been terrifying. Those moments also were terrifying for David Lyness’ son who walked in on this attack and witnessed his own father murdering the woman he professed to love. This young man bravely called the police alerting us to this appalling crime.
“Despite there being a witness to this vicious attack on Anita and other overwhelming evidence against him, Lyness continued throughout his trial and he did in police interviews to plead his innocence, forcing his own son to take the stand and give evidence against him in court.
“I pay tribute to that young man. His bravery and fortitude in being able to go to court to stand up for Anita should not be underestimated. I would also like to acknowledge the poise and composure of Anita’s family throughout this process. We hope the sentence given to Lyness offers some level of comfort to the family.”