grave memories | 

Daughters of paedophile rugby star Davy Tweed say life is ‘easier’ one year since his death

A granite slab recently erected near the small Presbyterian Church in Dunloy, states Tweed was a ‘dear son, brother, brother-in-law’.

Four of the five daughters of Davy Tweed spoke to the Sunday World, this week. (l-r) Jamiee-Lee, , Amanda, Lorraine and Victoria.

Tweed's family has erected a headstone and failed to mention that he was a husband and father.

David Tweed before the Wales v Ireland Five Nations Championship at Cardiff Arms Park. Pic: David Jones/PA Wire

David Tweed with Ian Paisley

Hugh JordanSunday World

A new headstone marks the final resting place of serial sex offender Davy Tweed.

The former Irish rugby international died a year ago on Friday of last week aged 61, following a single vehicle motor-cycle crash on the north Antrim coast.

A granite slab recently erected near the small Presbyterian Church in Dunloy, states Tweed was a ‘dear son, brother, brother-in-law’.

His step daughter Amanda isn’t surprised her and her four sisters didn’t merit a mention.

“In this country, we tend not to publicise the things we’re not good at. That’s probably why we and our mum were excluded, but we’re pleased about that.” she said.

In 212 David Alexander Tweed had been jailed for eight years when he was convicted at Downpatrick Crown Court of carrying out two vile sex attacks on two female victims.

And three years before that, he was acquitted of 10 offences against two female children.

But just as he was due to be released from prison on license. Tweed’s lawyers successfully persuaded the Appeal Court that at the judge at his trial, hadn’t adequately informed the jury on the so-called ‘Bad Character’ clause.

His conviction was quashed on the narrowest of legal margins and he was released.

His victims were advised a re-trial was possible, but they declined the option.

A railway maintenance manager, who won four Irish international rugby caps and represented Ulster 30 times, Davy Tweed had also been an elected politician for Ian

Paisley’s DUP and he later joined Jim Allister’s DUP.

Tweed's family has erected a headstone and failed to mention that he was a husband and father.

And following his release from Prison, Tweed steadily rebuilt his reputation within the unionist community in his native Co. Antrim.

He rejoined the Orange Order and the Apprentice Boys of Derry. And he was also welcomed into the Hebron Free Presbyterian in Ballymoney.

And when he was killed in a road traffic accident a year ago this week, his Loyal Order friends and colleagues turned out in droves to pay tribute to him.

Following his funeral in the Hebron Free Presbyterian Church, uniformed members of the Orange Order carried his coffin.

Little did they know though, that in the days and weeks to come, Tweed’s reputation would be left in tatters.

His step-daughter Amanda, cast aside her right to anonymity to reveal she had suffered years of sexual abuse at his hands.

And she was soon joined by Tweed’s daughters Lorraine, Vicky, Catherine and Jamiee-Leigh.

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Together they told the real story of Davy Tweed who had married their mother Margaret and left her face like pulp when he battered her black and blue.

And they also told bravely how Davy Tweed – Irish international rugby player and well known unionist politician - had sexually abused them as children.

They tearfully told the story of their cousin Gemma Boyd - a promising university student - who had taken her own life, because she was unable to cope with the aftermath of Tweed’s sexual abuse.

Amanda did a compelling and very moving interview with BBC Talkback’s William Crawley.

David Tweed before the Wales v Ireland Five Nations Championship at Cardiff Arms Park. Pic: David Jones/PA Wire

And together they did a Crimeworld podcast with the Sunday World’s Nicola Tallant.

Agencies dealing with child sex abuse reported record number of victims coming forward as a direct result of the Tweed sisters’ interviews.

And within weeks, all of the politicians and public figures who had praised Davy Tweed when he died, apologised to the sisters.

In recent weeks - as the first anniversary of Davy Tweed’s death loomed - the Tweed sisters met up with the Sunday World to reflect on what for them has been a traumatic year.

All of them - with the exception of Catherine who was travelling in Thailand – reported a sense of freedom after finding the courage to speak out last year.

Said Lorraine: “I honestly believe finding the courage to speak out has helped me. For too long I hid it all away, but now it’s a lot easier.

“I no longer have to explain why I am the way I am.

“Even though he’s gone, it’s still hard to take control of my mindset. He had so much control over me, telling me how worthless I was.

“He told me how fat and ugly I was and it affected me greatly. But now when someone says something nice to me, I know they actually mean it.

“The great thing is he can’t hurt anyone new. I still have flashbacks and panic attacks, but I’m dealing with it.

“I’m happy that so many others came forward after hearing out story. And I encourage any victims to come forward also”.

And Lorraine added: “If I can do it, anyone can.”

He sister Amanda also explained, she has no regrets about speaking out: “I’ve actually managed to reach out and help others I’m now on a panel with victims support.

David Tweed with Ian Paisley

“I went on a special course and I now have ‘trusted colleague’ status at work, which means I can help with domestic violence.

“All of us are very different and we deal with it differently. But we are all healing.

“I’m planning to write a book about what happened. As youngsters we had good times as well – obviously not with him – but together with our mum.

“We are so close and we are standing strong together.” said Amanda.

At 23, Jamiee-Leigh is the youngest of the sisters, but she too has no regrets about coming forward.

“I feel more alive now. And as time goes on, I know it will get better.

“Before he died, I never used to go out, just in case I met him. But now I can go out without even thinking about him. Nowadays I feel free.”

Her sister Vicky agrees, the best thing they did was to agree to cast aside their anonymity and speak out.

“It’s been a very good year. We were just glad to get our story out there.

“And it’s nice to know other people found the courage to speak out after hearing our story.

And Vicky also spoke about how their experience had strengthened their bond as sisters.

“We are even closer now. Our bond is stronger than ever and it never be broken.” she added.

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