Belfast Telegraph

Rugby star cleared of one charge

An ex-Irish rugby international has been cleared of one charge of indecent assault.

The jury is still considering 13 other allegations of child sex abuse.

David Alexander Tweed, 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 that 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 on Wednesday 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.

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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