Hartlepool darts player Tony Eccles ‘repeatedly raped’ schoolgirl, court hears

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

DARTS player Tony Eccles repeatedly raped and indecently assaulted a schoolgirl, a court has heard.

Teesside Crown Court heard that Eccles, 44, told his alleged victim she was “special” and not to tell anyone about the abuse or he would go to prison.

The jury was told that the professional darts player escalated from indecently touching the girl to raping her and promised her CDs in return.

Eccles, nicknamed The Viper, is accused of telling the girl: “You will get used to it. Just like it.”

The alleged victim told police that Eccles had sex with her many times when she was underage.

She said: “I’ve been trying to block it out,” but she now “wanted the evidence out”.

She described an incident alleging Eccles indecently touched her after rubbing her leg.

She said: “He said ‘you have to be quiet’ and he would explain to me I was special and wasn’t to tell anyone what happened.

“He said he would go to prison and I would go to a home for being dirty.”

When she protested during one alleged assault he is said to have remarked: “I do special things to you because you are a big girl.”

The alleged victim, who cannot be identified, said Eccles then began having sex with her.

She told police who later interviewed her: “I was crying saying it was hurting and he was saying ‘it’s alright, you will get used to it. Just like it.’”

She also told of an occasion when Eccles had sex with her in some bushes.

In another alleged assault he is also accused of using a sex toy on her.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said she told friends and her boyfriend about the alleged abuse when she was younger. She also reported it to police, but did not feel ready to take the allegations any further.

Mr Dodds told the jury that consent was not an issue they have to consider as the alleged victim was underage at the time.

Eccles denied any of the abuse happened when he was arrested and questioned.

Mr Dodds said: “He says the victim’s parents are jealous of him because of his lifestyle as a professional darts player.

“The defendant is a professional darts player and was at the time.”

Eccles, of Northgate, the Headland, Hartlepool, denies five counts of rape and five of indecent assault.

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

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

The trial continues.