Former Irish rugby international David Tweed has been jailed for eight years for sexually abusing two young girls.
Judge Alistair Devlin described the abuse, over an eight-year period, as thoroughly despicable and deeply disturbing.
He said: “The defendant has shown, and continues to show, no remorse whatsoever in relation to any of these offences.”
Tweed, 53, a father of four from Ballymena, Co Antrim, who also has two stepchildren, showed no emotion as the sentence was passed at Downpatrick Courthouse yesterday.
As he was led away, he waved and blew kisses to friends and relatives who had packed the public gallery.
Tweed was convicted after a lengthy trial at Antrim Crown Court in November.
After two days of deliberations, the jury of 10 women and two men found him guilty on charges of indecent assault, gross indecency and inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency.
Judge Devlin said: “There was not one, but two victims. Each defendant was young, innocent and particularly vulnerable because of their young age.”
The judge commended the courage displayed by both victims, who were aged between eight and 11 when the abuse happened during the late 1980s and 1990s while Tweed was at the height of his rugby career.
He said there was a raft of character references but he questioned whether the full extent of Tweed’s crimes had been made known to those who contributed.
Judge Devlin said: “He was previously highly thought of by many which makes the revelation of these offences all the more tragic.”