Northern Ireland news

Brother-in-law of David Tweed says daughter took her life after being abused by ex-Ireland rugby international

James Boyd said his daughter Gemma was driven to suicide in 2013 after being sexually abused by her uncle David Tweed. Picture by Colm Lenaghan

A NIECE of David Tweed took her own life after being sexually abused by the ex-rugby international, the girl's father has revealed.

James Boyd, who is married to the one-time DUP and TUV councillor's sister Maggie, said his daughter Gemma was driven to suicide in 2013.

Tweed died last month in a road accident in Co Antrim. In the aftermath of his death, his daughters spoke publicly about the sexual and physical abuse meted out by the former Ireland second row. Tweed's sister Hazel McAllister has voiced support for her nieces.

Tweed's daughter's remarks led a number of senior unionist politicians to qualify tributes they made to him following his death.

Ian Paisley and Mervyn Storey rowed back from their praise of the former Orangeman, saying they they never intended "to add to any hurt suffered" by his family.

Jim Allister apologised for some of the comments he made following Tweed's death on October 28.

Mr Boyd (48) told the Sunday World that he and his wife never got over the loss of their daughter, who was 20 when she died.

"Gemma had a lovely, bubbly nature. Everyone loved her," he said.

"But she couldn't come to terms with what happened and what Tweed had done. She just couldn't get past it."

Tweed was sentenced to eight years for child sex abuse before his convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal in October 2016.

He never faced any charges in relation to the abuse of Mr Boyd's late daughter.

 

Gemma's father said the abuse was reported to police but according to the newspaper, the university student "found the process too stressful to continue with it".

Mr Boyd said he contacted Tweed when his daughter first told her parents that she had been sexually abused by the ex-rugby star.

"I phoned Tweed immediately and told him I believed he had touched my daughter. He was silent for a few seconds and then he asked me to repeat what I'd said. I said it again," he said.

"Tweed told me he'd be up to see me immediately, but of course being the coward he is, he never arrived."

Mr Boyd said he later confronted his late brother-in-law and that he was threatened by Tweed.

"Tweed was a big thug and a bully. And he was especially a bully with younger people and women and small people. He would never challenge anyone near his own height," he said.

"But he was also good at playing Mr Nice."

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