Northern Ireland

David Tweed: Former Ireland rugby international child sexual abuse convictions quashed

David Tweed Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption David Tweed is a former international rugby player

Former Ireland international rugby player David Tweed's convictions for child sex abuse have been quashed.

Senior judges confirmed the outcome following a hearing at the Court of Appeal in Belfast on Tuesday.

Mr Tweed, 57, is set to be released from custody where he has been serving an eight-year prison sentence.

With the issue of a possible retrial still to be decided, no further details can be given for legal reasons.

The one-time councillor, from Clonavon Terrace in Ballymena, County Antrim, hugged relatives after the verdict was delivered.

In 2012 a jury found him guilty of 13 counts of indecent assault, gross indecency with a child and inciting gross indecency with a child.

Capped four times

But, following submissions by his legal team, Lord Justice Gillen confirmed: "We are going to quash the convictions in this matter.

"We will give our reasons in writing for doing so shortly."

Mr Tweed was capped four times for Ireland after making his international debut against France in the 1995 Five Nations championship.

He was also part of Ireland's squad at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa and made more than 30 appearances for Ulster.

A former member of the Orange Order, he served as a councillor in Ballymena for the Democratic Unionist Party and later the Traditional Unionist Voice.

Dressed in a dark suit, striped shirt and blue tie, he was brought into court by prison guards.

But at the end of the case, Lord Justice Gillen said: "There's no reason why he shouldn't be free as soon as possible."

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