Home' Greymouth Star : February 20th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Friday, February 20, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1437 - Scotland’s King James I is murdered by
would-be usurpers in the Scottish city of Perth.
1792 - US President George Washington
signs an act creating the US Post
1928 - Britain recognises
independence of Trans-Jordan.
1933 - US House of
congressional action on an
amendment to repeal Prohibition.
1962 - Astronaut John Glenn
becomes the first American to orbit the earth.
1975 - Greek Cypriot government calls on
the United Nations to fix the deadline for the
withdrawal of Turkish troops from that island.
1986 - Russia launches the Mir space station.
1988 - Rainstorm triggers floods and
mudslides in Rio de Janeiro that kill 65 people
and leave up to 100 elderly hospital patients
missing and feared dead.
1990 - England announces it will unilaterally
lift ban on new investments in South Africa.
1998 - The last power cable supplying
downtown Auckland, New Zealand, fails,
leaving 100 blocks dark for weeks.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Sir William Cornwallis, English admiral
(1744-1819); Honore Daumier,
French artist (1808-1879); Lucien
Pissarro, French artist (1863-1944);
Robert Altman, US director (1925-
2006); Sidney Poitier, US actor
(1927-); Peter Strauss, US actor
(1947-); Cindy Crawford, US model
(1966-); Kurt Cobain, lead singer
and guitarist of Nirvana (1967-
1994); Lili Taylor, US actress (1967-); Rihanna,
Barbadian singer (1988-).
“The life of the nation is secure only while the
nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.”
— Frederick Douglass (1817-1895).
“ Let us approach with a true heart in full
assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled
clean from an evil conscience and our bodies
washed with pure water. ” — (Hebrews 10.22).
The lone figure of
Mr Ward Rathbun,
swinging 100 feet
in the air by one leg
in an effort to dismantle St Patrick’s Church
spire on Tuesday, recalled memories of a similar
spectacle about 60 years ago. The occasion was
when the large heavy cross was erected at the
summit of the spire by the late Mr George
Ogilvie, who later in 1918 was killed in France
during World War One.
An old resident today recalled that volunteers
were called for the task of making repairs to
the spire and the erection of the cross. None
would come for ward except Mr Ogilvie.
Hundreds filled Chapel Street to watch with
bated breath, the figure of Mr Ogilvie climbing
to the top of a ladder strapped around the
spire. O ver his shoulder he carried the heavy
1cwt cross. Yet, despite his precarious position,
he finally erected the cross without mishap.
Fishermen have trudged many miles to get
to their secret place where they hold hopes
of catching a big one. A young Greymouth
fisherman, Richard Case did not have to go far
to catch his big one.
He cast his line into the stream of the Grey
River just above the Cobden bridge and
hooked on a big brown trout, which when
landed was found to weigh 8lb 14oz, just
outside the record trout of the season caught by
Mr Stephen de C Barclay in Nicholas Creek.
Ten members of the Kotuku Surf Life
Saving Club will take part in the National
Surf Championships which begin tomorrow
in Christchurch. They are: K Dixon, M Nolan,
G Cowan, B Sweetman, M McDonnell, K
Kavanagh, D Minchin, D McKane, B Beban,
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
ark Lyon slipped
down the ladder of
off every rung, until
Auckland Prison’s cell
block D. Master of the universe, property
developer, millionaire, would-be gangster,
drug addict and sexual deviant — Lyon
transformed as he fell, submerged in
the muck of increasingly dark and dirty
worlds. Sentenced to 15 years in prison,
aged 59, his prospects have gone from
ripe to rancid. Alone in his cell at night,
inmates say he screams when the lights go
out. Whatever haunts Lyon in his cell, he
has left plenty of nightmares outside it.
The Auckland Grammar boy was born
blessed, raised in a family buoyant on the
success of patriarch and business supremo
Mark Lyon finished school well enough.
He was bright, with a flair for English and
science, leaving for a marketing job in a
But his money — and there was plenty
— w o uld come from property. He became
part of Chase Corporation’s development
team, then struck out on his own.
The first millions came age 25, before
the 1987 sharemarket crash. Where others
drowned under the financial tsunami,
Lyon rose to the surface and then walked
Lyon was tall — almost two metres —
and handsome, flush with money and
hungry to make more.
Through the 1990s, in his 30s, he bought
and built and leased and rented property,
creating a portfolio of wealth that would
fuel his addictions in the years to come.
He created Mission Corporation, lived in
the penthouse of an inner-city apartment
and greeted callers with a phone message
saying: “ Welcome to the Twilight Zone. ”
Lyon bought Queen Street ’s Mid City
Centre, filling shops with tenants, and
developed Vulcan Lane. He had dozens of
commercial tenants in Newmarket, then in
other parts of Auckland.
Media-shy and part of the city’s inner
circle, Lyon was friends with Eric Watson,
now a billionaire, and in 1998 outbid
his rival for a lunch date with Kylie Bax
and Donald Trump. The $50,000 went to
charity and Lyon went to New York, with
his eye on the property magnate rather
than the supermodel.
He loved it wild, though.
One-time friend and sometime
bodyguard Jamie Lockett remembers
Lyon tossing him the keys to an AMG
Mercedes, newly bought. “ He said ‘take
me for a ride’,” jumping in the passenger
seat as “ hard-out petrol-head” Lockett tore
around Auckland at speed.
By 2000, Lyon had swapped his swanky
friends for the darker side of the city
life. When the Chancery opened that
year with its designer shops and fine
restaurants, Lyon’s best years were behind
“Just too much money,” Lockett, 53, of
Thinking on the money, Lockett sounds
a little wistful. He has walked against the
tide for years and just lost his latest hope
for a balanced life — a 18.3m boat seized
and being auctioned to pay bills.
“He was spending $20,000 a day,” says
That was 2002. Lyon had a magnificent
home in Omana Avenue, on the slopes of
Mt Eden and neighbouring Government
House. It was opulent — velvet curtains, a
grand piano, sports cars in the garage.
When it came to parties, though, things
were a little different from over the
There was booze, drugs and there were
hookers and the carnage would go on for
days. Lockett recalls people with P pipes
in one hand and pistols in the other. “How
come you didn’t do something about it,”
he was asked, replying: “ Why should I put
my life at risk?”
Lifelong criminal and hardman Petar
Vitali was there too. He always liked
guns. One bedroom was for a senior Head
Hunter. Other gang members were often
present for parties.
It was a place where, eventually, there
would be disaster.
In September that year, fire destroyed
Lyon’s home. Lockett — in bodyguard
mode — kept the curious and light-
fingered at bay for a few days with extreme
menace and a samurai sword.
Eventually though, Lyon’s decadence was
there for anyone willing to take a look.
Amid the ruin, his bedroom was the
most striking sight. There was a huge
double bed with a large ornate iron clock
behind it. On it, what would be Lyon’s
tragic signature — a painstakingly-
created montage of pornographic images
clipped from magazines — it was an effort
repeated in home after home for years to
Methamphetamine, studies have found,
fires sexual arousal. For Lyon, his addiction
to methamphetamine was entwined with a
hunger for sex.
One circled the other as Lyon sank
further and further down.
“Such a beautiful home,” Lockett recalls.
In the wake of the loss of Omana
Avenue, Lyon slipped out of normal life
into its feral underbelly.
Home — for a brief period — became
a basement area in the Chancery carpark,
the development he had financed before it
all went crazy. It was completely sealed off
from the sun. Dangerously, a large sheet
of iron balanced above the only entrance.
At the time, Lyon was facing charges of
possessing a pistol and was haunted by
those seeking him, drugs or money.
Inside, the stark concrete bunker was
furnished with salvage from the mansion.
Much of value had been taken — an
estimated $500,000 of belongings. At one
end of the cavernous room, furthermost
from the door, was a mattress.
When Lyon walked around town, he
wore dirty, ragged jeans held up by string
and t-shirts washed less often than they
could have been. He would wear wigs —
there was a blond mane, like his own, and
later, a bizarre set of dreadlocks. Strikingly,
his front teeth were missing.
Solace was sought in Rarotonga. A
residence permit was granted and a good
behaviour bond — said to be $150,000 —
paid, in an arrangement the Cook Islands
regretted within months.
Despite the calming presence of his
then-partner Susan, the party went on.
Rarotonga is a clean island, but Lockett
claims there were drugs and wild times.
Lyon shipped across White Lightning, a
2000hp speedboat which produced an ear-
splitting racket and infuriated locals. In
a bizarre stunt, Lyon and partner blasted
off into the Pacific, aiming for the distant
island of Mangaia.
At top speed, they covered the 204km in
just a few hours before ripping the bottom
of the boat out on a reef and having to
walk the final metres to shore.
On top of the parties, cars driven into
the sea and White Lightning, there were
complaints from young women about
The generally relaxed locals marched
in protest, Lyon left and returned to
Auckland where he was given a last chance
on existing charges.
Judge Philip Recordon gave Lyon a
community work sentence where he had
expected prison, hearing the millionaire
had wanted to help gang members but had
become entangled in their lifestyle.
The judge told Lyon he was a “poor little
rich boy ” who was “out of his depth and
hooked on drugs”.
For Cliff Lyon, watching from the back
of the court with Lyon’s two brothers, it
must have seemed the end of a chapter.
For Lyon, though, nothing changed
except for the worse.
From the outside, the montage of
pornography could be clearly seen
lining the windows of Lyon’s waterfront
Different place, same story.
He wandered Fort Street, winding up in
a coma after an altercation left him face
down with his skull cracked. In brothels in
the area, he was known for his drug abuse
and the desire it created.
He was also known for thwarted desire.
For Lyon, P abuse meant he had an itch
no scratching would satisfy, and frustration
at his inability would be directed at the
women he had hired.
There were a constant smattering of
charges — police arrested Lyon minutes
after he thrust a paintball gun into the
face of a man drawing cash from an ATM
at 7.30am in September 2005. “Drug-
induced”, a judge later called it.
The same month Lyon took a samurai
sword and a large hunting knife and went
to visit his estranged partner and her two
children, going into the house at 6am to
find two men in a sitting room.
Two headbutts to the face of one man
earned him a new assault charge.
There was a spell in prison after the
2004 community sentence was appealed.
Sentenced to 15 months in Hawke’s Bay
prison in 2006, his time was spent
lodging numerous papers with the courts
in an attempt to get out as quickly as
When Lyon was released, he found parts
of his fortune had slipped from his hands.
In 2007, he alleged in court that a
commercial structure created to distance
himself publicly from his fortune had
been used to remove about $6 million of
it. It was the first of two such cases. In the
other, in 2014, he claimed to have been cut
out of a deal worth $10m to him.
Between the two cases, Lyon slipped
further into the grey and murky
nether world in a constant search for that
which would satisfy his addictions and
From 2009, at least, Lyon had come
to prey on the vulnerable. He owned a
29-apartment building called Artizanz
in Eden Terrace, filling units with an
entourage of the desperate and dissolute.
As at Omana Avenue, although far less
grandly, the parties went on forever. There
were women — prostitutes — Lyon had
known for years and, with them, he used
methamphetamine like a leash. For others,
he used it to bait a trap.
His co-accused, a woman in her early
20s with her name still suppressed, would
find girls as young as 14, targeting those
grappling with a new-found P addiction.
They would be brought to Lyon, who
gave them methamphetamine in return
Detective sergeant Andrew Saunders,
who led the investigation, says: “She was
effectively his pimp, if you like.”
Whatever free will his addicted victims
might have had was irrelevant to Lyon, the
jury found in the case of one victim. Judge
Russell Collins, who sentenced Lyon, said
“ when she did not willingly provide (oral
sex), you took what you believed you were
“ In the broadest summaries, you played
on addiction to methamphetamine or a
desire on behalf of others for drugs for
your own sexual gratification. ”
One victim in her mid-20s, called ‘K’ in
court, was believed by Lyon to have stolen
money and drugs. She was taken from the
street, “desperate for methamphetamine”
and brought to Lyon. There, the court
heard, Lyon had her taken to a room
he called the ‘dungeon’ where she was
shackled with a collar around her neck,
fastened to a device which left her
hunched and unable to move freely.
Lyon forced her to carry out oral sex for
what she said “felt like a couple of hours”.
At one point, the court was told, she
begged Lyon to rape her so it would be
over. Lyon told her she was more beautiful
when she cried, the court heard.
Lyon’s ‘pimp’ was co-accused and victim
in one, says Saunders. She was also the
reason the offending stopped when it did.
One day, for whatever reason, she
approached a youth aid officer on
Karangahape Road. Mark Lyon was using
her to get girls, she said, and “someone was
going to die” if he was not stopped.
In thrall to Lyon, she disappeared
back into his world. That one piece of
information would have to be enough.
“S he knew what she was doing and
knew it was wrong, but she had her own
dependency issues,” Saunders says.
It took police work. A plan was hatched,
with a three-month timetable; it took four
months to crack.
There was a raid, arrests, and again,
Lyon’s signature montage of porn. Then
came the difficult task of tracking down
victims who would testify. Young girls and
working prostitutes, living at the edge of
society with methamphetamine addictions,
were not willing witnesses.
“ You’re asking young girls to stand in
front of a bunch of strangers and tell them
very personal things,” Saunders says.
Five complainants showed up at court.
“There’s probably another six or seven we
identified,” he says.
It took two-and-a -half years for the
case to come to trial. The victims needed
constant support, particularly after some
reported approaches from “associates of
Lyon” with offers of cash if they pulled
There was never any connection
identified between the offer and Lyon.
“Those girls had been through enough.”
The father of one of the girls agrees,
describing his daughter as devastated by
“S he’s depressed, she suffers from
anxiety.” The aftermath saw her
successfully complete a drug rehabilitation,
only to have tertiary study derailed by the
The father encountered Lyon when he
wound up working at the place where
his daughter’s abuser was receiving rehab
treatment. Horrified, he went home, got
drunk “and went to take a gun out of my
gun safe. I just wanted to go around and
In a moment of clarity, he rang the police
and begged them to come and take his
“He’s had so many chances from
the judiciary in the past,” the father
says. “He’s gone off into this world of
per verted sex and drugs and firearms and
gangs. I just see him as the devil.”
He sat there in the Victim Support
room, watching his girl leave to testify
in court — proud of her courage and
terrified at the ordeal she faced.
Distant from his own father, he had
pledged at his daughter’s birth to give her
everything he had missed out on.
“It turns out I’ve failed her. I failed to
protect her from this scum.”
The father is pained beyond the comfort
offered by Justice Collins, who told the
court he hoped “as a society we have
matured to the point where we can
understand those sort of things are well
beyond the control of even the best of
parents and the best-intentioned parents”.
There is little comfort, too, for Lyon’s
father, Cliff, so distant now from his son.
He offered an apology and sympathy “to
any innocent people who may have been
affected ” by his son.
“Our family are deeply saddened at
these 2012 charges and the changes to
Mark’s personality and conduct that
appear to be brought about by the use of
On bail, Lyon rented an apartment from
car dealer John Murphy. Immediately, he
bought cameras and had them installed
to watch outside the apartment. Iron bars
were put in to keep people out.
Inside, Lyon recreated his mad, mad
“I’ve had people who have been around
to his house,” Murphy says. “ There’s a
mountain of methamphetamine. Young
kids would go in there for days on end.”
One morning, Murphy found a young
girl — about 16, 17 — slumped outside
“Her eyes were going backwards in her
head. He just left her there like a piece of
The tenancy ended badly “with a
trashed building and a police raid and
nothing but aggravation”. Again there
was the porn montage. In the rubbish,
multiple prescription packets of Viagra-
style drugs — the itch which can not be
One of Lyon’s sons visited. Murphy
recalls him saying: “ This is just another
event. This is how it ends up.”
Murphy hopes prison will help but “he’s
just a drug addict ”.
Without Lyon and his money, the
entourage will need to find somewhere
else to buy drugs and some other way to
The hangers-on, the money, the parties
— Murphy says: “I truly believe Mark
Lyon is the biggest drug distributor in
He knows people on the other side of
the law, does Murphy. Lyon, he says, is
“ what they call a screamer” in prison.
“Every night before he’s going to sleep,
The party is over.
The fall of Lyon
From millionaire property developer to the drug-addled owner of a sex dungeon . . . Scion of a
well-to-do family and a former high flyer in Auckland’s property market, Mark Lyon has seen his
world tumble from riches to rags, from inner-city penthouse to a seamy underground world of drugs,
sex and violence. DAVID FISHER, of the New Zealand Herald finds out how it happened.
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