Tinder rapist and serial sex offender Patrick Nevin has had his 12-year jail term increased by two and a half years, after the State appealed the undue leniency of his sentence.
The Court of Appeal today described the impact on each of his victims as ‘nothing short of devastating’.
The now 38-year-old attacked three women he met on Tinder 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.
The computer programmer had pleaded guilty to raping one woman at Bellewstown, Co Meath that 12 July, and to sexual assault four days later of a second woman at an unknown place in Co Meath.
The father-of-two, previously of Meadowlands Court, Mounttown Road, Dún Laoghaire and Dundalk, Co Louth, had been due to stand trial at the Central Criminal Court. However, he 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.
Justice Eileen Creedon imposed a 14-year sentence on the rape charge and an eight-year sentence on the sexual assault charge. Both were to run concurrently, with the final two years suspended.
The rapist had already been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for the sexual assault of his third Tinder victim at the UCD campus on 23 July that year. Nevin appealed that conviction, but subsequently withdrew it.
Cathleen Noctor SC yesterday 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 the judge had erred in failing to identify an appropriate starting point at a significantly 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.
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.
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.
Counsel said that the judge had contextualised the offending behaviour.
He submitted that this headline sentence was actually inappropriate and excessive.
Justice Isobel Kennedy, who sat with Court President Justice George Birmingham and Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh, delivered an extempore judgment today.
“The impact on each is nothing short of devastating,” she said of his victims.
She noted that Nevin had received a net sentence of 12 years in prison and said that the judge had erred in identifying 15 years as the pre-mitigation sentence.
“It called for the imposition of sentences on a consecutive basis,” she said. “We conclude that the net sentence of 12 years for both offences is too low.”
The court did not intervene on the eight-year sentence for the sexual assault, but substituted a 10-year sentence on the rape charge.
Justice Kennedy explained that, although they were reducing the sentence for the rape, they were making both sentences consecutive, resulting in an indicative sentence of 18 years.
They suspended the final three and a half years of that 18 years, bringing Nevin’s net sentence up from 12 years to 14 and a half years.
The terms of the suspension were similar to those set out at his original sentence hearing: that he would remain under the supervision of the Pobation Service for five years post-release.
Nevin’s victims had attended the hearings remotely.
Their attacker also attended remotely from a room at Arbour Hill Prison, where he is serving his sentence.