'Drunken thug' | 

Judge encourages Tyrone sex offender to find wife or partner and start a family

The “drunken bully" assaulted woman in her own home after date

Cathal Patrick Feeney

Cathal Patrick Feeney at a previous court appearance

Staff ReporterBelfast Telegraph

A judge has encouraged a prolific offender who sexually attacked a woman he met through a dating website to “find a wife or partner and get a family and a home together”.

Cathal Patrick Feeney (36), from Main Street in Beragh, first appeared in court over two years ago, originally charged with raping the victim in her home.

On being returned for trial at Dungannon Crown Court, the defendant, who the police described as “dangerous to females”, went on to accept a lesser sexual assault charge.

He and the victim met through the Plenty of Fish site, and had a night out without incident.

On a second date over dinner at a hotel on March 7, 2020, the woman became uncomfortable, describing Feeney as “paranoid and argumentative.”

She went home, but within minutes of entering her house, he arrived at the door.

She agreed to let him in but warned there would be “no funny business”. However, Feeney sexually assaulted her, paying no attention when she cried out.

The victim fled, but he followed her and said: “It’ll be alright. We’ll talk in the morning.”

When arrested, he insisted he had been at a different address.

Bail was previously refused after a police officer said Feeney was “considered dangerous to females”. “He has 67 previous offences, some of which are domestic in nature. He is managed by a specialist unit as a violent offender,” they added.

At the most recent hearing, Judge Brian Sherrard KC noted the victim remained extremely traumatised and, “in her own words, isn’t the woman she was”.

The court was told eight women, including his mother and grandmother, had taken non-molestation orders against Feeney. He also has convictions for assaults and breaches of court orders, with the majority of his offending occurring while intoxicated. Judge Sherrard said this marked him “as a belligerent, drunken thug, a bully and a nuisance”.

He told him: “Your relationship with alcohol is extremely problematic. You struggle to recognise the import of what occurred and you pose a high risk of reoffending.”

A probation officer said Feeney should be considered dangerous, but Judge Sherrard felt the threshold wasn’t met, and while accepting his offending has escalated, it was the first sexual offence.

It was noted Feeney received support from prison chaplain Fr Michael Bingham who, although recently passed away, found “the character image of the defendant being a menace to vulnerable women is one I find hard to reconcile given his moral sensibilities”.

Feeney was sentenced to four-and-half-years in prison — the bulk of which has been served on remand — and handed a seven-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

However, the judge declined to ban Feeney from contacting women through the internet because he did not “want him excluded from normal life”.

“It’s not the online contact which proved problematic but rather the behaviour afterwards,” he said.

Sex offender registration was ordered indefinitely.

Concluding, Judge Sherrard told Feeney: “You are still a young man. There’s nothing that will stop you moving on with your life in a more productive way, finding work or finding a wife or partner, getting a family and a home.

“The order imposed is the lightest touch I can afford.”

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