independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Jury to go out in sex abuse trial

Former Ireland rugby international David Tweed denies 14 counts of indecent assault

Jurors in the trial of a retired Irish rugby international who is facing child sex abuse allegations must set aside sympathy and prejudice, a court has heard.

David Tweed, who played for Ireland and Ulster, is on trial at Antrim Crown Court accused of abusing two young girls who are now adults.

Tweed, who is also a Ballymena councillor, is charged with abusing the two young girls over an eight-year period.

He denies all 14 counts of indecent assault, gross indecency and inciting gross indecency. The jury of 10 women and two men is expected to rise to consider its verdicts on Tuesday morning.

In his summary, Judge Alistair Devlin said jurors should decide on the basis of the evidence presented during the three-week hearing. He said: "You must clear your minds of sympathy - put aside sympathy for people who claim to be victims of child sex abuse. You must also put aside any prejudices which you may have for someone accused of sexual offences."

Judge Devlin also told jurors to approach their task rationally, logically, clinically and dispassionately and noted that they had to judge for themselves the credibility and reliability of each witness.

The court was told that Tweed had no obligation to explain why there were so many complaints against him. The judge added: "If there is a real possibility that he is not guilty, then you must give him the benefit of the doubt and find him not guilty."

Judge Devlin warned jurors that although there was no evidence of collusion between the two complainants, they should bear in mind the risk of contamination.

The delay between the alleged incidents happening and complaints being made to the police was another factor to be considered, the judge said, adding: "You should approach the issue of a true verdict with an open mind."

Jury members were told they would not be put under any time pressure to arrive at verdicts when they retire.

Press Association

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