Belfast Telegraph

Cricket star accused of rape

Armagh captain facing trial over alleged sex assault.

By Christopher Woodhouse and Paul Higgins

The captain of Armagh Cricket Club has been accused of rape and sexual assault.

Matthew Steenson led his team to a T20 Trophy victory over Woodvale at Waringstown last month.

But just five days after that sporting triumph, the 25-year-old star batsman was in the dock of Belfast Magistrates’ Court for his first appearance on charges of raping and sexually assaulting a woman.

The alleged attacks are said to have taken place on New Year’s Day of last year.

The brief hearing on July 28 was adjourned and Steenson has continued to play cricket ever since.

Last weekend, he led his team to a three-run victory over NCU Gardiner Brothers League Section 1 rivals Woodvale.

But Steenson, of Newry Road, Armagh, was back in court on Friday for a preliminary inquiry hearing into the sex charges.

Wearing a smart grey suit, the defendant stood in the dock as the charges were read to him. He made no comment when asked if he had anything to say in response to the charges.

The prosecution said he had a case to answer and District Judge Alan White returned the case to the Crown Court to fix a date for trial.

Steenson, who works for a local food firm, was released on continuing bail.

An Armagh Cricket Club spokesman said it was not aware of the allegations against Steenson and that it considered him innocent until proven guilty.

Just days before his first court appearance, Steenson led his team to victory in the Lagan Valley Steel T20 final against Woodvale at The Lawn, Waringstown. Armagh won by five wickets, with skipper Steenson saying afterwards: “We delivered when it mattered, arguably as good a performance with the ball and in the field as most can remember from an Armagh team. Runs saved, catches taken and bowlers in control is a captain’s dream.”

His biography on the team website lists him as a trainee graduate with a well-known local food company.

As well as being Armagh captain, Steenson, whose nickname is ‘Steeno’, is also the side’s record innings run holder with a tally of 151.

He lists his hobbies on the club website as cricket, rugby, golf and farming.

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