Darts player Tony Eccles tells court that allegations are ‘lies’ as his defence starts

Tony Eccles outside Teesside Crown Court
Tony Eccles outside Teesside Crown Court

DARTS player Tony Eccles has branded a catalogue of serious sex claims he is alleged to have committed as “lies”.

An emotional Eccles took to the stand at Teesside Crown Court as he began his defence.

He is charged with five counts of rape and a further five indecent assault charges.

They are alleged to have been committed against the same woman when she was a schoolgirl a number of years ago.

The 44-year-old denied each offence as it was put to him and sought to challenge several details of the alleged victim’s account.

At one time during his evidence, Eccles became tearful and asked for a moment to compose himself before continuing.

When his barrister, Jim Withyman, asked if he carried out the first allegation of indecently touching the alleged victim, Eccles said: “No I did not.”

He denied other alleged touching of the girl said to have taken place soon afterwards.

And when asked if he repeatedly carried out such behaviour Eccles responded saying: “That’s complete and utter lies.”

The alleged victim, who cannot be legally identified, accuses Eccles of going on to rape her, including once in some bushes.

Eccles denied any of the alleged occasions happened.

He said he was at hospital on the night one of the alleged rapes is said to have taken place and he did not see the girl.

Eccles told of one occasion where he said the alleged victim put his hand on her thigh, but he pulled it away.

Mr Withyman asked him: “Do you have a sexual interest in children?”

Eccles answered in a trembling voice: “No.”

Mr Withyman added: “Did you abuse her?”

Again Eccles simply said: “No.”

Eccles denied other claims that he contacted the alleged victim by mobile phone saying he did not get one until several years later.

The court heard how Eccles, of Northgate, Hartlepool, voluntarily went to police after the same person made a similar allegation previously, but no further action was taken.

He described how he was arrested over the new allegations at his home at 5.50am and spent 13 hours in a police cell before being interviewed.

Nicknamed The Viper, he has won 13 tournaments in his 14-year darts career.

He has played with the game’s best and was given a fourth seed at The Lakeside in 2007 and 20th in the PDC World Championships in 2009.

The trial continues.