Poole speedway club 'believed in' cleared rider Darcy Ward

Darcy Ward
Image caption A jury found Darcy Ward not guilty of sexual assaulting a teenage girl

A speedway club said it always believed its star rider was innocent after he was cleared of sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

Poole Pirates' Darcy Ward, 20, was found not guilty on Tuesday of assaulting the 17-year-old at a Premier Inn in Poole, Dorset, last year.

The club welcomed the verdict and said he had shown "immense mental strength".

A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was cleared of rape and three counts of sexual assault.

The prosecution alleged that Mr Ward and the 17-year-old boy had sexually assaulted the teenager, who was visiting the town to see the speedway last August.

'Difficult time'

It was claimed that a video filmed on the boy's mobile phone showed Mr Ward assaulting her but defence barrister Stewart Jones QC said the footage showed no struggling or protestation from the girl.

Matt Ford, Poole Speedway promoter, said: "As a club, we have tried to do the right thing and keep out of the case and just let the legal system run its course.

"We believed in his innocence and welcomed the verdict.

"It has been a difficult time for Darcy but he has shown immense mental strength and somehow not allowed the tribulations of the trial affect his racing. Just look at his scores."

Mr Darcy, from Australia, lives in Sturminster Marshall, Dorset, and won the Speedway World Under 21 Championship in 2009 and 2010.

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