A serial sex offender has appealed against the severity of his 14-year sentence for attacking women he met through Tinder. The State has counter-appealed, arguing that the sentence, of which the final two years were suspended, was too lenient.
Patrick Nevin (38) attacked three women during their first meetings in the space of eleven days in July 2014.
The sentencing court for two of these attacks heard that he had a preoccupation with sex and hostility towards women; he was at a high risk of re-offending.
Nevin had pleaded guilty to raping one woman at Bellewstown, Co Meath that July 12th, and to sexual assault four days later of a second woman at an unknown place in Co Meath.
The father-of-two had been due to stand trial at the Central Criminal Court, but changed his pleas to guilty following a legal ruling, which would allow the prosecution to introduce evidence from the third woman describing sexual assault by Nevin on a first date.
The court heard that the rapist, previously of Meadowlands Court, Mounttown Road, Dun Laoghaire and Dundalk, Co Louth, met both women in this case on Tinder.
Justice Eileen Creedon imposed a 14-year sentence but suspended the final two years.
The computer programmer was previously sentenced to five and a half years in prison for the sexual assault of his third Tinder victim. This offence took place at the UCD campus on July 23rd that year. The attacker appealed that conviction, but subsequently withdrew it.
Cathleen Noctor SC on Thursday appealed the undue leniency of the 14-year sentence for the other cases on behalf of the DPP.
She submitted to the Court of Appeal that a significantly higher sentence should have been imposed.
She said that the judge had erred in failing to identify an appropriate starting point at a higher level than the 15 years she set before considering mitigation.
Ms Noctor said that the judge had not considered a number of aggravating factors. These included that there was a campaign of offences just days apart, his tricking the victims into positions of vulnerability by driving them in his car to remote locations, the fact that he had carried out the attacks while under a suspended sentence for possession of a firearm and his premeditation.
Another aggravating factor not reflected in the sentence, she said, was his previous convictions for causing serious harm and threatening to kill a female, for which he had been sentenced to seven years.
“This clearly brings this offence well into the category of between 15 years and life,” she submitted. “It’s the director’s position that a headline sentence more significant than 15 years should have been identified.”
Ms Noctor also noted that the sentences for the crimes against both women were made concurrent. She submitted that, as these were individual offences, the judge should have either given a greater sentence or imposed some degree of consecutive sentencing.
In response to a question by Justice Isobel Kennedy, she said that the recording of 44 minutes of one of the attacks on Nevin’s phone was an aggravating factor.
“It’s degrading and humiliating of itself,” she said, noting that the woman in question had become aware of it in the course of the recording.
She confirmed that no reason had been given for making this recording.
Michael Bowman SC made counter arguments on behalf of Nevin.
“No matter what way you look at it, the director is arguing for what she already has,” he said, giving examples of much shorter sentences for what he said were similar crimes.
He referred to Nevin’s tricking of the women into positions of vulnerability by having them get into his car. He noted that they had not been taken against their will.
“This is unfortunately a factor common in cases where people meet on websites of this nature,” he said.
He said that the judge had contextualised the offending behaviour.
He said that, rather than disregarding the aggravating factors, the court was at pains to identify them. However, he said that the defendant did not accept that there was premeditation.
He pointed out that, with 15 years, the court had gone into the highest sentencing band available to it.
He submitted that this headline sentence was actually inappropriate and excessive.
Court President Justice George Birmingham, who presided with Justice Kennedy and Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh, said the court would give a decision on Friday.