Thursday 13 December 2018

Similar methods used in three assaults led to key ruling on evidence

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon made the significant ruling. Picture: Collins
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon made the significant ruling. Picture: Collins
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

A jury had been sworn in and the rape trial was due to begin.

Patrick Nevin only changed his plea at the eleventh hour following an unusual legal ruling on Monday.

The ruling by Ms Justice Eileen Creedon was not a landmark ruling, but it was noteworthy and significant.

The legal decision would have allowed the prosecution to introduce evidence from two other women of Nevin attacking them on a first date. The jury was told yesterday a trial would now not take place because Nevin had pleaded guilty.

Nevin admitted yesterday to raping a woman at Bellewstown, Co Meath, on July 12, 2014, and to sexually assaulting a second woman in Co Meath on July 16, 2014.

Last November, he was convicted by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of sexually assaulting a Brazilian student at the UCD campus on July 23, 2014.

The three attacks over 11 days all followed a similar modus operandi, a fact that allowed Judge Creedon to rule the jury would have been allowed to hear evidence of all the complainants.

Prosecuting counsel, Alex Owens SC, had submitted the evidence of all three assaults was relevant to the rape trial as a similar methodology had been used.

Patrick McGrath SC, defending, submitted the application was very unusual and should be treated with extreme caution by the court.

The judge agreed and said that because of the similarity in the modus operandi she would accede to the prosecution request to include the evidence.

She also said that in including this evidence there had to be a balance struck between its probative value over its prejudicial effect.

In legal argument in the absence of the jury, the court was told that Nevin had met all three women on Tinder and had used a similar method to carry out the assaults.

Nevin's defence lawyers had also asked the court to order media organisations to remove reports of previous trials and offending. Ms Justice Creedon ruled against the defence application, saying that the court was not satisfied there was a real risk of an unfair trial if the material was not taken down.

Judge Creedon said running through the case was the ability of juries to focus their minds on the matters put before them in the courtroom.

She also referred to comments made by another High Court judge in a similar application, who said courts would have to become accustomed to the modern world with regard to material accessible on the internet.

Irish Independent

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