Former rugby international guilty of abuse

Thu, Nov 29, 2012, 00:00

A former Irish international rugby player has been found guilty of child sex abuse.

David Tweed (53) from Clonavon Terrace in Ballymena, Co Antrim, was convicted of 13 counts of indecent assault, gross indecency with a child and inciting gross indecency with a child.

The railway supervisor, who is also a Ballymena councillor, stood trial at Antrim Crown Court accused of sexually abusing two young girls over an eight-year period from 1988.

“The offences with which you are charged are not only vile and wicked, they are particularly disturbing and distasteful crimes,” said Judge Alistair Devlin.

Tweed was remanded in custody. There was no application for bail and sentencing is scheduled for the new year.

The jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for more than eight hours after a trial which lasted three weeks.

They returned guilty verdicts on 10 charges, including indecent assault and gross indecency and Tweed was taken into custody. The jury later returned with three further guilty verdicts.

Tweed stood in the dock with his hands clasped tightly and drew a deep intake of breath as the final three guilty verdicts were read out before being led away by prison staff.

Two women who had supported Tweed throughout the hearing wiped away tears.

On Tuesday Tweed was cleared of one count of indecent assault.

The father of four, who also has two stepchildren, had consistently denied anything improper had happened with the girls who are now adults.

None of the victims, who had given evidence during the trial, were in the courtroom but their friends and family sat with arms linked and wept.


Discharging the jury, Judge Devlin said the trial had been “complex and disturbing”.

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 also appeared more than 30 times for Ulster.

His defence barrister, Laurence McCrudden QC, had claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy.

But in her closing speech Laura Ievers QC, for the prosecution, argued that Tweed was able to hide the abuse because of his position in society.