Ex-rugby star lived a lie, abuse trial told

A former Ireland rugby international facing a string of child sex abuse allegations lived a lie, a court has been told.

David Tweed is on trial at Antrim Crown Court accused of abusing two young girls who are now adults.

Mr Tweed, a Ballymena councillor, is charged with abusing the girls over an eight-year period.

He denies all 14 counts of indecent assault, gross indecency and inciting gross indecency.

During closing submissions, Crown Prosecution barrister Laura Ievers QC said Mr Tweed, who played rugby for Ulster and Ireland, was able to hide behind his sporting achievements and position in society: “He was a big, powerful man [with] charisma, sporting prowess — the perfect veil to hide behind and the ultimate in living a lie.”

The jury of 10 women and two men were told to set aside their emotions and decide the outcome of the case dispassionately.

“You must decide the case coldly and clinically based on the evidence,” Ms Ievers said.

“Probably is not good enough to find him guilty. You must be sure in order to convict him.”

The trial, which has lasted for three weeks, is being heard by Judge Alistair Devlin. He said the hearing had now reached a crucial stage with all the evidence presented.

Mr Tweed appeared in the dock. For the most part, he sat with his arms folded chewing gum. However, as details of the alleged abuse were put to the jury he occasionally shook his head.

In his closing speech, defence barrister Laurence McCrudden QC said that allegations of sexual abuse were easy to make but difficult to refute.

He claimed the two girls’ memories had become distorted and that the allegations were dangerous phantoms. He said flashbacks that one of the alleged victims claimed to have suffered were not true memories.

“They have grown and become distorted and disfigured with the passage of time,” he told the court.

Later, Mr McCrudden said the jury should be anxious about some of the evidence they have heard: “If you are uncertain, if you are unhappy or uneasy about the evidence... if you are hesitant I submit that’s a reasonable doubt.

“The law says, thankfully, that if that reasonable doubt exists he’s entitled to the benefit of the doubt.”

Meanwhile, Judge Devlin thanked the jury for their close attention.

“The trial has reached an important stage,” he said. “You have now heard all of the evidence.”

Judge Devlin also told the jury members they would not be put under any time pressure to decide on a verdict when they rise to deliberate next week.

The trial continues.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.