Hartlepool darts player Tony Eccles GUILTY of raping schoolgirl

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

HARTLEPOOL darts player Tony Eccles is facing a lengthy jail term after being found guilty of a string of rapes and indecent assaults.

After a two-week trial at Teesside Crown Court, a jury found Eccles guilty of five rapes and five indecent assaults against a schoolgirl.

Eccles, 44, had denied the allegations.

His barrister accepts he will receive “a lengthy sentence” when he returns to court on Thursday to learn his fate.

Eccles, of Northgate, on hartlepool’s Headland, was remanded in custody until then.She told Teesside Crown Court how Eccles’ behaviour escalated from touching her indecently to repeatedly having sex with her.

His victim had told the jury that Eccles said she was “special” as he forced her to have sex against her wishes, including once in some bushes outdoors.

The victim, now an adult, also explained how on one occasion he used a sex toy on her.

Eccles, of Northgate, Hartlepool, will be sentenced after the prosecution get a victim impact statement from the woman.

His barrister Jim Withyman did not ask for a pre-sentence report and said: “We know the outcome. It is going to be a lengthy custodial sentence.”

Eccles was led away by a dock officer and was remanded in custody.

It is a spectacular fall from grace for the professional darts player, nicknamed The Viper who has won 13 tournaments in his 14-year career.

Eccles had 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.