Jury in rugby international's child sex abuse case could be discharged

A jury at the trial of former Irish rugby star facing child sex abuse allegations has been told they could be discharged if they cannot come to an agreement.

Jury in rugby international's child sex abuse case could be discharged

A jury at the trial of former Irish rugby star facing child sex abuse allegations has been told they could be discharged if they cannot come to an agreement.

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

A railway supervisor, who also sits on Ballymena Council, he had had been charged with 14 counts of sexually abusing two young girls over an eight-year period from 1988.

The jury of 10 women and two men retired today to start their second day of deliberations.

Judge Alistair Devlin, who has been presiding over the three-week trial, said: "Hitherto you appear to be having some difficulties in reaching a unanimous or majority verdict in respect of some or all of the charges."

The judge said it was desirable but not imperative to reach either a unanimous or majority verdict. He noted that he had the discretion to discharge a jury if it appeared that further deliberation was futile.

He added: "This does not mean you should subordinate your own genuinely held view," and said that failure to reach an agreement would not reflect badly on jurors provided they had made an honest attempt to reach a consensus.

Mr Tweed is accused of indecent assault, gross indecency with a child and incitement to commit an act of gross indecency with a child. He has consistently denied anything improper happened with the girls who are now adults.

Yesterday he was cleared of one count of indecent assault against one of the alleged victims.

Mr Tweed was capped four times for Ireland. He made his debut against France in the 1995 Five Nations competition and played in the Rugby World Cup in South Africa.

He was also a prominent Ulster Rugby star with more than 30 appearances for the team during the 1980s and 1990s.

Defence barrister Laurence McCrudden QC argued that his client has been the victim of a spiteful conspiracy and claimed the girls' memories had been distorted into dangerous phantoms.

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

The hearing continues.

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