Thursday 20 September 2018

Serial rapist Patrick Nevin had form as a teenager

Patrick Nevin's entire adult life has been punctuated with prison terms for sex attacks, writes Maeve Sheehan

RAPIST: Patrick Nevin signed up to Tinder and posted topless, pouting selfies on his profile Photo: Collins
RAPIST: Patrick Nevin signed up to Tinder and posted topless, pouting selfies on his profile Photo: Collins
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Last November, a woman with little English but a lot of grit flew from Brazil to Ireland, to testify against a man who sexually assaulted her in a car three years earlier in Dublin. Her attacker found her on the dating app Tinder, a factor that featured large in his trial.

He had made no bones about wanting sex, his defence team argued. Did she seriously not understand his graphic messages? It was suggested to her that the photos uploaded on her Tinder profile had "a bit of a sexy look about them".

The court had already heard about her fears of being judged, not just for getting into a car with a strange man but also for using Tinder. But she endured the judgments, withstood some lacerating cross-examinations and, in the end, the jury sided with her.

Her attacker was convicted and jailed but, for legal reasons, his name was not allowed to be published until last week when, after pleading guilty to the rape and sexual assaults of two other women whom he also met on Tinder, he was outed as a serial sex offender, Patrick Nevin (36).

This is not the first time women have been attacked by men they met on Tinder or other dating apps. The courts have seen an increase in such cases in recent years.

Nevin's case raises not only questions about the dangers of meeting strangers on social media, but the more troubling spectre of serial sex offenders stalking social media apps to seek out potential victims they can harm.

Nevin's progression into serial sex offender and rapist was despite repeated legal interventions since childhood. His adult life has been punctuated with prison terms for sexual assault, rape and attacks on women, a conviction for every decade.

His parents' troubled relationship broke down when he was a young child, according to evidence given at one of his many court hearings. He lost contact with his mother and lived with his father, who moved to Denmark to live with a woman and took his son with him. He was troubled. He became "heavily involved in the Danish justice system" after moving there as a child, one court hearing heard. He was 17 and still a minor in 1999 when he was convicted of rape and aggravated rape. On turning 18, he was deported by the Danish authorities back to Ireland, where he lived with a grandmother.

At 20, he had a job and a girlfriend who was also at college. The stability didn't last. He exploded one February night at a Valentine's work do, when "elections" were held for the company's male and female heart-throbs. As a prize, the winning heart-throbs would have dinner. His girlfriend won the female heart-throb and Nevin became incensed, the court heard.

Sergeant Michael O'Brien told the court the couple had a fight in the pub. Nevin went home to his girlfriend's house in the north inner city. When she came home a little later, she opened her front door to the sight of her labrador pup and four-month-old shih tzu dead in the hall, battered to death with a banister rail.

Nevin then turned on her. He offered her the choice of dying by choking or stabbing, and then subjected her to a prolonged attack which left her with a fractured skull and cuts and bruises to her face.

Nevin, who pleaded guilty to the crime, was sentenced to seven years in jail in December 2001.

"This was a prolonged and violent assault that had some considerable premeditation and I'm sure when you took the lives of her two dogs you knew they were very close to her," Judge Sean O Donnabhain told the court. "You have previous convictions for violence against women and I have no evidence before me to suggest you will not harm women again."

He was released in his mid-20s, when Nevin apparently made another attempt at normal life. He continued the studies he began in prison, doing a computer programming course at University College Dublin. He became a father to two children and was reportedly a good father.

But at 33, he had signed up to the Tinder dating app and posted topless, pouting selfies on his account profile. He stalked Tinder for victims and found three unsuspecting women whom he attacked over a period of 11 days in summer 2014. He used the same modus operandi in each case, collecting the women in his car, bringing them to a secluded spot and attacking them. On July 12, 2014, he raped a woman in a parked car in Bettystown, Co Meath.

Four days later, on July 16, he sexually assaulted a second woman, also in Meath, also collecting and driving her to a secluded spot.

On July 23, he collected a Brazilian woman - in Dublin learning English - from her city apartment and drove her to University College Dublin, where he assaulted her.

His sordid spree of sexual offences stopped in its tracks because women came forward to report him. He was convicted and imprisoned in December for sexually assaulting the Brazilian woman.

He had been charged with the July 16 attack and was due to go on trial last week for raping a woman in a Bettystown car park on July 12.

Nevin pleaded not guilty to rape. Usually in criminal trials, past offences committed by the accused are not disclosed to the jury. But in this case, the judge made an exception. Last Monday, on the eve of his trial, she granted the prosecution's request that the jury hear evidence from the Brazilian woman and the woman he had been charged with sexually assaulting in Meath, to demonstrate his modus operandi.

When his trial opened the next day, Nevin changed his plea to guilty for both the rape and outstanding sexual assault charge. His admissions meant he could also be named publicly for the first time in connection with the attack on the Brazilian woman.

Evidence of his attacks will be provided by gardai at his sentencing hearing in July. But the evidence presented at his trial for sexually assaulting the Brazilian woman last November provides chilling insight into his modus operandi.

She was only a month in Ireland when she met Nevin. Here to learn English, she signed up to Tinder to find Irish people she could speak English with. She chatted with Nevin online over a period before they met. He sent graphic messages to her, to which she replied: "That was rude, I'm a good person, I'm not a whore." He pushed her to meet, suggesting they go for a drive in his car, assuring her he wanted to "meet and be friends". He picked her in the city, all friendly and smiling, to take her for the best coffee in Dublin, she said. He drove her to a large green area on the campus at University College Dublin, with nobody around.

According to her testimony, he changed into a "monster". "He leaned over and placed his hand at the back of my neck. He touched the side of my legs. He was shouting at me, you f***ing bitch. He was angry. I was in fear of my life. I thought he was going to rape me. I tried to open the doors but they were locked. He was trying to restrain me by holding one of my arms."

She managed to open the car door and cry for help. Nevin drove away.

When he was arrested, Nevin admitted he wanted to "seduce" the woman, that he regarded the date as a "hook-up" for sex. In his garda interviews, he claimed he went to kiss her and she pushed him back and became "hysterical". He told her to "relax" but she continued to "freak out" and then he told her get out of the car. He drove her to a field on the campus, she got out and he drove away.

In court, his "up-front" demands for sex were turned to his favour by his legal team. His barrister argued she knew he was looking for sex - although not to suggest this meant she was entitled to be sexually assaulted, but rather to attempt to undermine her credibility.

The Brazilian woman's credibility won out and Nevin was found guilty, even without the jury knowing he was in fact a serial sex offender who operated in the modern-day stomping ground of social media.

Yesterday, Fine Gael Senator, Catherine Noone, called for a ban on convicted sex offenders from using dating apps. She suggested legislation that would allow judges to order sex offenders not to use them as a condition of their sentencing.

Patrick Nevin will be sentenced on July 26.

Sunday Independent

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