Convicted serial rapist Patrick Nevin has had his sentence increased by two and a half years. Cathleen Noctor SC appealed Nevin’s original sentence on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the trial judge had not considered sufficient aggravating factors in sentencing the 38 year old. In a judgement delivered by Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy on Friday July 31st, the sentence was increased. The College Tribune reopened the facts of this case, and analysed the implication of suspended sentences here in Ireland, particularly in relation to sexual assault cases.

Back in 2014, Nevin was convicted of a series of sex-related crimes including the rape and sexual assault of three women. He used the popular dating app, Tinder, to lure in his victims, before sexually assaulting them in various locations across the Greater Dublin area. One rape and one sexual assault took place in different parts of Meath, while one sexual assault took place in UCD. According to one of the victims, an English Language student, Nevin began by sending her suggestive messages on Tinder, asking for lewd pictures and for sex. On learning that she only wished to be friends, Nevin drew back his sexual advances and agreed to meet her for a coffee. A former UCD student, Nevin used his knowledge of the campus layout to find a secluded spot where he could take her, with the intent of having sex, whether consensual or not. Instead of driving her to a coffee shop as promised, Nevin took the student to a secluded field on the UCD campus where he sexually assaulted her.

Last month, Nevin attempted to appeal the severity of his 14 year sentence, the final two years of which were suspended. A suspended sentence is one which is conditional – once certain requirements are fulfilled, you do not go to prison. Such requirements could include good behaviour, undergoing certain treatment or keeping the peace. If one of the conditions is broken, then the suspended sentence will be served.

Suspended sentences are popular in Ireland, particularly when it comes to sentencing sex offenders. It was reported by The Irish Independent that in 2016, a third of sex offenders received a partially suspended sentence. The Independent stressed that such sentences can prove “hurtful and upsetting” for victims, since the offender is afforded a degree of leniency for their crimes.

Once Nevin filed his appeal, the State issued a counter-appeal, on the grounds that the initial sentence had been too lenient. Cathleen Noctor said certain aggravating factors which had not been considered in the initial sentencing must now be considered. One such factor is Nevin’s criminal record, which is far from clean; he previously served 7 years for causing serious harm and threatening to murder his ex-girlfriend in 2001, and was also serving a suspended sentence for firearm possession when he committed the sex-related offences in 2014.

Ms. Justice Kennedy, overseeing the trial, gave her decision on Friday: “We conclude that the net sentence of 12 years for both offences is too low.” Nevin’s overall sentence has been increased to 18 years, the final 3 ½ of which are suspended, meaning he will now serve a minimum of 14 ½ years.

Rosie Roberts Kuntz – Assistant News Editor