Jury sworn in at trial of Hartlepool darts star accused of raping schoolgirl

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

A JURY has been sworn in at the trial of Hartlepool darts star Tony Eccles who is accused of a string of sex charges, including five rapes of a schoolgirl.

The 44-year-old, from Northgate, on the Headland, denies the five counts of rape and five counts of indecent assault.

The jury of three men and nine women have been sworn in at Teesside Crown Court.

The trial was set to open on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to last until early next week.

Eccles was granted bail by Judge George Moorhouse with conditions including not having unsupervised contact with anyone under 18-years-old.

Eccles, nicknamed The Viper on the oche, has had an impressive darts career in both the British Darts Organisation (BDO) and the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC).

He reached the quarter final stage of the 2014 Lakeside World Championships in January but was knocked out by Robbie Green from Liverpool.

His career on the oche includes 13 major tournament victories.

He also made it to the last eight at Lakeside in 2007 when he was fourth seed.

During his stint in the PDC, Eccles played alongside the sport’s biggest stars including Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld.