Backlash after judge told “dangerous” sex offender to find a wife and start a family
The judge said he did not want the offender “excluded from normal life”
By Jade Biggs
12 Oct 2022
Chris RyanGetty Images
People have taken to social media to criticise a judge after he told a “dangerous” sex offender to find a wife and start a family.
Cathal Patrick Feeney from Beragh in Northern Ireland first appeared in court over two years ago, originally charged with raping a woman in her home. When he returned for trial at Dungannon Crown Court, the 36-year-old defendant – who the police described as “dangerous to females” – went on to accept a lesser sexual assault charge.
Feeney and the victim met through dating site, Plenty of Fish, and had a night out without incident. But on a second date in March 2020, the woman became uncomfortable, describing Feeney as “paranoid and argumentative”. She left the hotel where they were having dinner and went home, but within minutes of entering her house, he arrived at the door.
She agreed to let him in but stressed that there would be “no funny business”. Despite this, Feeney sexually assault the victim, paying no attention to her cries. He was later arrested, but insisted he had been at a different address.
At trial, the court heard that eight women, including Feeney’s own mother and grandmother, had taken non-molestation orders against him. Amongst his 67 previous offences, he has convictions for assault 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”.
Feeney was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison – the bulk of which has already been served on remand – and handed a seven-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order. Despite warnings from a probation officer, who said the defendant should be considered dangerous, 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,” Sherrard said. “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.”
But the decision was met with criticism online. “His probation officer and police consider him to be a danger to women. Eight separate women have restraining orders against him. He met a woman on POF and raped her… but apparently it’s extremely important that he isn’t excluded from having a normal life and he should go and search for another woman online as she will be able to solve all his problems,” said dating expert and author Lalalaletmeexplain. “I f*cking hate it here.”
“We’ll find him a good wife so it’s just one woman suffering abuse instead of several,” someone else tweeted, with a third person writing: “He’s not capable of stable relationships with women… And the judge seems to think he should find a single victim that he can lock up and victimise at home – for what? To save the rest of us?”
“Non molestation orders are hard to get, the fact that multiple women have needed to and managed [to get] them against him is a clear indication of danger that the judge has actively chosen to ignore. There is so much wrong with this entire case it’s astounding,” another person tweeted.
For help with any of the issues discussed in this article, visit: Rape Crisis England & Wales, Rape Crisis Scotland, or Rape Crisis Northern Ireland. RASASC provides emotional and practical support for survivors, families and friends.