Northern Ireland

Former Ireland rugby international David Tweed guilty of child abuse

David Tweed
Image caption David Tweed is a former rugby international

Former Ireland international rugby player David Tweed has been found guilty on 13 child sex abuse charges.

Tweed, who is now an elected councillor in Ballymena, County Antrim, had faced a total of 14 abuse charges relating to two girls, over an eight-year period.

Crown Court Judge Alistair Devlin told Tweed his crimes were "vile, wicked, dastardly and distasteful" and would be treated very seriously.

Tweed, whose victims are now adults, will be sentenced in the New Year.

On Tuesday, he was cleared on one count of indecent assault by the jury of ten women and two men.

Shook his head

He was found guilty on another 13 charges on Wednesday.

As the jury left the courtroom, Tweed shook his head.

Victim impact assessments are now being carried out.

The 53-year-old, who played rugby for both Ireland and Ulster, is currently suspended from the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party.

He joined the TUV in November 2010 after defecting from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) but when charged with the offences, his membership was put on hold.

Tweed was elected as a DUP councillor in Ballymena in 1997 and was re-elected at the subsequent two polls.

He was prominent in a series of sometimes violent loyalist protests outside a Catholic church in the Harryville area of the town.

'Questioned upbringing'

He was criticised by the Police Federation when shortly after his election he said it was not "astonishing at all" that police officers homes were being attacked due to the way loyalist parades had been policed.

In a 2006 council meeting he "questioned the upbringing" of 15-year-old Michael McIlveen, a Catholic teenager beaten to death in a sectarian attack in Ballymena,

He later left the DUP when it embraced power-sharing at Stormont. He stood successfully for the TUV in the 2011 local council elections.

In 2009 he was cleared of sexually abusing two girls.

In 2008 he was convicted of drink-driving. In 1997 he was fined for assaulting a man in a Ballymoney pub.

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