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Ruined childhood David Tweed was 'a bully and paedophile… he was no gentleman', victim says

"My overall takeaway from learning of the passing of Davy Tweed is that he can no longer hurt anyone else"

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Amanda Brown

Amanda Brown

Amanda Brown

Former Ireland rugby international and hardline unionist hero David Tweed, who died in a motorbike accident this week, has been branded a "bully and a paedophile".

Those are the damning words of his victim Amanda Brown, whose evidence against him in court nine years ago landed Tweed an eight-year sentence on child sex-abuse charges.

And although he was released on appeal four years later, the girl he abused has broken her silence, describing him as a danger to children.

Now, 41-year-old mum-of-one, Amanda Brown has spoken to the Sunday World, hours after it emerged the one-time Lansdowne Road hero had been killed in a collision while driving his motorbike in north Antrim.

Father-of-four Tweed - who would have turned 63 in less than a fortnight - died at the scene following a crash on Thursday at the junction of Whitepark Road and Tully Road, near Bushmills.

Since then, tributes have flooded in from Tweed's colleagues and friends from the worlds of rugby, unionism and the Orange Order.

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David Tweed with Ian Paisley

David Tweed with Ian Paisley

David Tweed with Ian Paisley

And on Friday, his family said in a statement: "David will be greatly missed by his family and friends, as well as the wider community."

Five years ago, Tweed walked from court a free man after the Court of Appeal quashed an eight-year sentence he received in 2012.

Man Mountain Tweed was convicted in court of a catalogue of sex crimes against two young girls. He had served just four years behind bars.

But after learning of his death, Amanda Brown - who once testified in court against him - spoke out, saying of the four-times capped Ireland rugby international: "He wasn't a gentleman. He was a bully and a paedophile.

"While most people may mean well, these comments stick in my throat, because to me he wasn't someone who should be spoke highly of. I have spent a lot of time dealing with my trauma and getting over the PTSD I suffered as a result of the sexual abuse and domestic violence.

"So my overall takeaway from learning of the passing of Davy Tweed is that he can no longer hurt anyone else."

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David Tweed as rugby player

David Tweed as rugby player

David Tweed as rugby player

After complaining to police, Amanda had to move from her Ballymoney home to live in another part of Northern Ireland because of the daily intimidation directed at her by the 6ft 5in former international.

Yesterday, she took time out to reflect on the emotions sparked by the sudden passing of the man who stole her childhood innocence.

Addressing Sunday World readers directly, she said: "Davy Tweed to a lot of you is a political activist, a rugby hero, a councillor. But to me, he was my abuser. He ruined my childhood. He was very physically abusive towards my mum and he sexually abused me.

"My earliest clear memory was from around eight. I also have earlier memories of waking with a feeling of being pinned down and terrified.

"I lived with this abuse. I learned how to hide it all from everyone around me. I did this out of fear of what would happen if people knew."

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David Tweed in a stand-off with cops.

David Tweed in a stand-off with cops.

David Tweed in a stand-off with cops.

Amanda also explained how she finally found the courage to tell someone about the suffering she endured as a child.

"Fast forward a lot of years when the pain of the trauma became too much as I heard of more and more people he had abused. The guilt I carried was so much that I spoke out.

"I went to the police. The evidence I gave was considered strong enough in the eyes of the CPS to take to court and get a conviction.

"He would stand outside my place of work at the end of the night and glare over at me. So I left my job and moved to Belfast, leaving friends and family behind."

And Amanda recalled the difficulty of facing up to strict standards of evidence in sex abuse cases.

"I was in the dock every day for the first week being questioned by his defence team...

"At one stage in the case he realised I was telling the truth. His demeanour towards me changed. It was in that moment I felt I'd won."

Amanda said she would never forget the moment she learned her abuser had been found guilty.

"To get 13 out of 14 counts of sex abuse against a minor was almost unbelievable... My motivation for going to the police was to stop him from hurting anyone else. To hear that he had been given an eight-year sentence with four years served time and would be on the Sex Offenders Register, I felt as though I had accomplished my goal and I could begin to heal."

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David Tweed as an Orangeman

David Tweed as an Orangeman

David Tweed as an Orangeman

But Amanda also recalled her devastation when she learned Tweed's case in the Court of Appeal had been upheld and he had been acquitted.

"I didn't understand, there was no new evidence. He got out on the 'bad character' clause. The technicality was in how the judge addressed the jury in relation to this."

She also addressed the plaudits thrown at Tweed since his death.

She said: "I sit reading comments about how he was 'such a gentleman' and post from his 'Orange' brethren speaking so highly of him.

"Politicians and people from the Church are singing his praises for his politics and sports 'heroism'...

"I feel sorry for people who think they know Davy Tweed. They have forgotten about what he actually is."

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