Former darts player Tony Eccles jailed for raping schoolgirl

Tony Eccles arriving in court
Image caption Tony Eccles had denied all the charges against him

A former darts player who raped and indecently assaulted a girl has been jailed for 16 years.

Tony Eccles, 44, of Northgate, Hartlepool, had denied five counts of rape and five of indecently assaulting the girl over a five-year period.

But he was found guilty by a jury at Teesside Crown Court at the end of a two-week trial.

The offences were committed between 1996 and 2001, the court was told.

Nicknamed 'The Viper', Eccles announced his intention to retire from darts after his defeat in the quarter-finals of the 2014 BDO World Championship.

In a career spanning 14 years, he played on the PDC circuit and won 13 tournaments.

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