HARTLEPOOL darts player Tony Eccles has appeared in court charged with five rapes and five counts of indecent assault on a young schoolgirl.
The 44-year-old British Darts Organisation (BDO) player, who lives in Northgate, on the Headland, denied all of the charges put to him at Teesside Crown Court on Wednesday.
He appeared in court alongside his brother, Glen Eccles, 46, of Trefoil Court, Norton, who was charged with two counts of rape and two indecent assaults.
The alleged incidents are all said to involve the same girl.
Tony and Glen Eccles will stand trial at Teesside Crown Court on June 9.
Both men were granted bail with conditions including not having unsupervised contact with anyone under 18 years old.
Tony Eccles announced in January that he would not retire from darts after he exited the BDO Darts World Championships at the quarter-final stage.
‘The Viper’ as he is nicknamed in the sport, lost 5-2 to Liverpool’s Robbie Green.
Eccles has played with the game’s finest and been rated amongst the game’s best – with a fourth seed at Lakeside in 2007 and 20th in the PDC World Championships in 2009 on his CV.
The winner of 13 major tournaments told the Hartlepool Mail last year that winning the Dutch Open in front of 3,500 people has been his career highlight so far.