HARTLEPOOL darts star Tony Eccles will stand trial after denying a string of sex charges including five rapes on a schoolgirl.
The 44-year-old British Darts Organisation (BDO) player appeared at Teesside Crown Court yesterday where he denied five rapes and five counts of indecent assault.
Eccles, who lives in Northgate, on the Headland, Hartlepool, appeared alongside his brother, Glen Eccles, 46, of Trefoil Court, in Norton, who was charged with two counts of rape and two indecent assaults.
The alleged incidents are all said to involve the same girl and Tony and Glen will stand trial at Teesside Crown Court on June 9.
The trial is expected to last up to six days.
Both men were granted bail with conditions including not having unsupervised contact with anyone under 18-years-old.
Tony Eccles, nicknamed The Viper on the oche, has had an impressive darts career playing in both the BDO and the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).
Ahead of the 2014 World Championships last month, Eccles announced that it was going to be his last appearance at the Lakeside.
He went on to perform well at the famous venue, reaching the quarter finals when was knocked out by Liverpool’s Robbie Green.
It was his joint best-ever performance in the BDO’s main calendar event; the Hartlepool tungsten thrower also made it to the last eight in 2007 when he was fourth seed.
During his brief stint in the PDC playing against players such as multiple-time world champions Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld and Adrian Lewis, Eccles made the last 16 of the World Championships, World Matchplay and World Grand Prix in 2008.
But his stay in the PDC was not as successful as he would have hoped and he returned to the BDO two years ago.
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.