Former Ireland rugby international cleared of one child sex abuse charge




A former Ireland rugby international was today cleared of one charge of indecent assault. The jury is still considering 13 other allegations of child sex abuse.

David Alexander Tweed (aged 53) of Clonavon Terrace in Ballymena, Co Antrim is standing trial at Antrim Crown Court.

The railway supervisor, who is also a Ballymena councillor, was charged with sexually abusing two young girls over an eight-year period from 1988.

It took the jury of 10 women and two men five hours to reach a verdict on one count of indecent assault against the first of the alleged victims after a trial which has lasted for more than three weeks.

The foreman told the court jurors had not yet come up with a verdict on the 13 other charges which include gross indecency and inciting indecency.

They will return to court number two tomorrow to resume their deliberations.

Judge Alistair Devlin told the jurors: "You must decide this case on the evidence you have heard."

Tweed was accused of 14 counts of child sex abuse including indecent assault, gross indecency with a child and incitement to commit an act of gross indecency with a child.

He has denied that anything improper had happened with the girls who are now adults.

Tweed, who was wearing a light grey suit, striped shirt and pink tie, stood in the dock with his arms folded as the court clerk read out the charges one by one.

Only one of the alleged victims was in court. She wept and clutched hands with other relatives as the jury foreman said they had not yet reached verdicts on 13 of the 14 counts.

Mr Tweed's defence barrister Laurence McCrudden QC has claimed his client had been the victim of a conspiracy. He claimed the girls' memories had been distorted into dangerous phantoms.

Meanwhile, Laura Ievers QC, for the prosecution, said Tweed had used his sporting achievements and position in society to live a lie and she said the claimants had no reason to make up the allegations.

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