Crimeworld Long Read Davy Tweed: The devastation caused by evil abuser 'The Tweedophile' to brave daughters
In part two of the Davy Tweed Long Read, Hugh Jordan details the chain of events that led his daughters to finally come forward and speak of the horrendous abuse they suffered at the hands of their father
After a slight delay, Davy Tweed's funeral finally went ahead the day after Amanda Brown went public about her stepfather's sex abuse past.
The funeral took place in the Hebron Free Presbyterian Church in Ballymoney. And despite loyal order leaders remaining tight-lipped, it was clearly an Orange Order affair from beginning to end.
Members of the former rugby star's lodge wore collarettes as they carried Tweed's coffin on its final journey to the small graveyard at Dunloy Presbyterian Church, where he was buried in a new grave near his parents.
A prominently displayed photograph on the Order of Service showed moustachioed Tweed wearing an Orange collarette and a bowler hat with a large orange lily tucked into a perimeter silk band.
But when asked if the Orange Order regretted involvement in Tweed's final farewell, the organisation's grand secretary, the Rev Mervyn Gibson, declined to be drawn: "We have no comment to make," he said.
On the BBC's popular Talkback programme on Radio Ulster, Tweed's former stepdaughter Amanda Brown (41) slammed politicians for refusing to accept he was a paedophile.
"I feel it's one thing passing on condolences to the family, but then to honour him as a great man, I didn't think it was OK," she told presenter William Crawley.
"It showed a massive disrespect to those who suffered at his hands," Amanda insisted. Despite overwhelming opinion to the contrary, TUV leader Jim Allister point-blank refused to modify his words of praise.
But one person who days later came out strongly in support of Amanda was her half-sister Victoria.
At 26, Vicky, as she is known, is the second youngest of Tweed's four daughters.
Committed to unveiling the truth about Tweed's sordid past, Vicky also set aside he right to anonymity to bravely tell the Sunday World: "Davy Tweed wasn't a man, he was a monster and it's time everyone knew it.
"People say he was a great rugby player and a great unionist politician. But to me he was the dark shadow who entered my bedroom every night to abuse me.
"To think Davy Tweed actually attended my birth and held me in his arms knowing that at some stage in the future he was going to abuse me, it's absolutely sickening," said Vicky.
She added: "But it's over now and he can't hurt me or anyone else any more."
Two weeks after Tweed died, it became apparent his five daughters were on mission.
They were determined to reveal the real truth about the man they branded 'The Tweedophile'. Brave Amanda, Lorraine, Catherine, Vicky and Jaimee-Leigh stood shoulder to shoulder to tell the world that the former rugby international and politician was, in fact, a dangerous paedophile.
And they called on politicians, including TUV leader Jim Allister, to publicly accept their father was a sex monster.
Their strength and solidarity won widespread public support right across the island of Ireland.
Agencies tasked with providing help for victims of sex abuse began to report an upsurge in inquiries since the sisters spoke out.
Tweed's stepdaughter Amanda said she wasn't surprised that some politicians were still apparently refusing to condemn Tweed.
She said: "We are well used to this type of attitude from people like Jim Allister.
"They appear to have a blind loyalty to Davy Tweed. But they are simply ignoring the reality. Davy Tweed was a paedophile and a violent bully."
As the Tweed sisters' story became more and more known, the spotlight switched to the unionist politicians who had paid tribute to him when he died - and they all finally issued apologies for their previous statements.
The story was attracting interest elsewhere. Sunday World investigations editor Nicola Tallant met Amanda, Catherine and Vicky to produce a fascinating podcast released on Nicola's Crime World series.
"We wanted to set the record straight," said Amanda.
"This man was so much more than a sporting hero and a loyal DUP and TUV politician. He was a predatory paedophile and violent thug who smashed our mother's face to a pulp."
Tweed's daughters - who range in age from 22 to 41 - said they were determined to speak out with the aim of informing a public who may have previously believed Tweed was a pillar of the unionist community.
"The time is right for us to speak out. And by doing this podcast we will leave a permanent record about the real Davy Tweed," said 29-year-old Catherine.
Amanda became Tweed's stepdaughter when her mum Margaret married the then sporting hero. But from around the age of eight, she was sexually abused by him. Tweed also threatened the child with violence if she dared tell anyone.
After her four younger sisters were born, Amanda thought - wrongly as it turned out - that the abuse would stop if she changed her surname from Brown to Tweed.
"I knew nothing about the others also being abused. And I thought if I became Tweed, then he would stop. But I was wrong. Nothing changed," said Amanda.
She added: "As we grew older, we called him the Tweedophile."
As Catherine spoke to the Sunday World's Nicola Tallant, she struggled to hold back the tears as she recalled the sexual abuse and physical violence she endured.
"It was horrendous," she said.
Catherine also challenged those who praised him after his death and she urged them to look again at the facts.
"Did they not know he was in the Crown Court twice? Did they not know he had two separate trials where he was charged with serious sexual abuse and extreme violence to our mother?" she asked.
"Do they think we are making this up? Would we have allowed ourselves to stand in the spotlight if we weren't telling the truth?
"Of course I can see why people thought he was a great man. It was his charm and public persona which allowed him to get away with it.
"But people should know that the aggression he showed on the pitch, he also brought home to his family. All of us and our poor mother were subjected to his brutal violence and bad temper every day," said Catherine.
Victoria Tweed (26) said she hoped that by speaking out, they would encourage other sex abuse victims to come forward.
"I know it's unusual for so many sex abuse victims to come forward at the same time. We just hope it will encourage others to do the same," she said.
"As a family we stuck together through thick and thin and we still give each other strength when we need it."
Catherine added: "We want anyone who is suffering to speak out now."
But the sisters weren't the sex monster's only victims.
Days before Davy Tweed was jailed for eight years, a talented young student took her own life.
Gemma Louise Boyd could no longer cope with the mental anguish she endured as a result of Tweed's sex abuse.
Twenty-year-old Gemma was a cousin and best friends with Tweed's daughters.
And, like them, she too was a victim of the former rugby star's vile sexual deviance.
Gemma - a student at the University of Ulster - had undergone counselling to help her cope with the agony. But in the end the stress became too much.
Exactly a month to the day after Tweed died, Gemma's dad James Boyd told Sunday World readers: "Davy Tweed killed my child."
It was the first time the father of three had spoken publicly about the heartache which continues to swamp his family.
"Gemma had a lovely bubbly nature and everyone loved her," said heartbroken James, a former brother-in-law of Davy Tweed - Tweed was married to James's sister Margaret.
"Gemma just couldn't come to terms with the past and what Tweed had done to her. In the end, it was too much for her," said James.
James said he decided to speak out after taking strength from the testimony of Tweed's daughters who set aside their anonymity to encourage other sex abuse victims to come forward.
"I too want other victims to come forward," he said.
Tweed escaped justice relating to the sexual abuse of Gemma, but even today his vile behaviour continues to have a devastating effect on everyone who knew her.
On the day we visited the Boyd home, Gemma's mum Maggie was too upset to speak about the tragedy. She remained in her bedroom throughout.
But James (48) told us: "I don't blame Gemma. I blame Davy Tweed.
"Gemma had been undergoing counselling, but there's only so much they can do.
"I know from experience because a few years ago I too had a complete breakdown over this and I lost my job as a result."
James recalled the devastation he felt when his teenage daughter told him Tweed had abused her.
"I phoned Tweed straight away and I told him I believed he had inappropriately touched Gemma.
"Tweed was silent for a few seconds and then he asked me to repeat what I had just said. I said it again.
"Tweed told me he'd be up to see me right away, but needless to say he never arrived," said James.
Shortly after telling her parents about Tweed's abuse, Gemma reported the matter to the police, but she found the investigation too stressful to see it through.
James personally confronted Tweed after a chance meeting with him in a Chinese restaurant in Ballymoney.
"Tweed wasn't long out of jail at the time and I'd gone to the restaurant to collect a meal we'd previously ordered on the phone.
"I saw Tweed sitting at a table. He saw me also and he said, 'What are you looking at?'
"I said, 'Well that's an open invitation. I'm looking at a dirty, disgusting excuse for a human being, who really needs his bits cut off'."
True to form, Tweed then threatened James.
"I'll be seeing you around the town," he said, menacingly.
James told the Sunday World: "I'm not ashamed to say it, but if I'd seen Tweed in Ballymoney when I was driving my car, I would have run him over."
He added: "Davy Tweed was just a big thug and a bully. He especially liked to threaten women and smaller men, but he would never challenge anyone near his own height."
The heartbroken dad also spoke about how hard it was for his family to come to terms with the loss of their lovely daughter Gemma.
"It's just constant sorrow and pain. It has affected us unbelievably. Most of the time, we are just shut down," he said.
James said his family took no comfort from the news that his daughter's abuser had died.
"It didn't make any difference to us. Gemma is still dead and we're not getting her back.
"Davy Tweed devastated us. He ruined every part of our lives," said James.
And he also spoke about the ongoing effect the loss of Gemma has on his family.
"It really came home to me when the twins celebrated their 21st birthday. They were only 13 when we lost Gemma. They saw me break and children shouldn't see that.
"I cried for four days. I wouldn't leave the house. I wouldn't even leave the bedroom. I had a complete breakdown."
James said that at one stage, he was so consumed with grief he even contemplated taking his own life.
"The thing that kept me going though was my wife and children and knowing Davy Tweed was still alive. I knew I couldn't leave this earth while Tweed was still walking on it."
James also looked back at the warning signs leading up to Gemma's death at the age of just 20.
"We would hear Gemma crying at night and we wondered if she was self-harming. But she eventually told us what was wrong. In the end, Gemma just couldn't get past it. But the only reason she was in that frame of mind was because Davy Tweed put her there," he said.
In the days and weeks after Gemma told her parents of the trauma she was going through, they continued to keep a close eye on her.
"Gemma was studying forensic science at university. She had bought herself a small car to travel up and down.
"And to tell you the truth, on the weekend she died, we believed she was turning a corner, but of course she wasn't.
"Gemma comes into my mind first thing in the morning and she's last person I speak to at night before I go to sleep.
"I often wonder how she would have done if she'd managed to get over it. I wonder if she'd have had a child by now," said James.
James takes comfort from visiting his daughter's grave in Ballymoney several times every week, and he spoke of the relief he felt when he learned Tweed was buried in the nearby village of Dunloy.
"I'm just glad that dirty bugger Tweed wasn't buried in the same cemetery as Gemma," he said.
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