David Tweed: Court rules against automatic retrial for ex-Ireland rugby player
A former Ireland international rugby player will not automatically face a retrial on child sexual abuse allegations, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Judges said it was up to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) whether charges should be pursued against David Tweed.
Mr Tweed, 57, was jailed for eight years in 2012.
The convictions were quashed in October.
The former councillor, from Clonavon Terrace, Ballymena, had been found guilty of 13 counts of indecent assault, gross indecency with a child and inciting gross indecency with a child.
Lawyers for Mr Tweed challenged the conviction based on flaws in how bad character evidence was put before the jury.
Judges in Wednesday's hearing outlined why Mr Tweed's convictions were overturned.
"The real danger is that his background...took on a disproportionate role in the case and created a real risk that the jury would pay more prejudicial attention to it than should have been the case," one of the judge said.
"We do entertain a significant sense of unease about the correctness of the verdict given the real risk that the jury have been unfairly prejudiced.
"Since this appellant has virtually completed the time specified on foot of his conviction, we do not order a retrial but leave this to the discretion of the PPS."
Mr Tweed made no comment outside court but his solicitor described the case as a "landmark judgement" on how courts should treat bad character evidence.
"Mr Tweed is obviously relieved," she said.
"From the outset, he has maintained his innocence in respect of these charges."
She added that the former rugby international "now wants to get on with his life".
Mr Tweed was capped four times for Ireland after making his debut in 1995.
He was also part of Ireland's squad at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa that year 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 (DUP) and, later, the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV).