The stepdaughter of the late Davy Tweed says his death has finally brought her and her some peace.
The 61-year-old who remains Ireland’s oldest international rugby debutant when he was 35 turned to politics after his rugby days with Ulster and briefly with Ireland.
Tweed died last month in a road crash in Co Antrim, but what’s emerged in the wake of that news has brought relief to his family who suffered brutally at his hands.
Amanda Brown has taken the time to rebuke several prominent politicians from the DUP and TUV in Ulster’s unionist circles who wrote fawning, sickening tributes to the man whom his stepdaughter described as a paedophile and a violent thug.
Mr Tweed was convicted of child sex offences in 2012. He was sentenced to eight years in prison. He was released in October 2016 after his convictions were quashed in Belfast.
Ms Brown told BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback that some of sentiments from the statements from the likes of Ian Paisley Jr. and Jim Allister were “massively disrespectful to all victims of abuse”.
“When people are passing comment about this great man after knowing what he was convicted of, to still support him, that’s the message that they’re giving out to other victims.”
Ms Brown became Mr Tweed’s stepdaughter when she was four. She said outside the home he was a very well-respected man, particularly with his rugby career, before becoming an elected councillor for the DUP, before he went on to join the TUV, and serve as a councillor in Ballymena.
However Ms Brown said he was different at home. “I found it quite confusing at times … particularly when we were at a rugby match, how he was amongst his peers then, and you’d have heard him laughing and joking, and he’d have been nice and bought us bottle of juice and packets of crisps, we were involved and it seemed like very much a family occasion,” she said.
“But when you got home it was a completely different matter, and the slightest thing that could have happened through the day would have been recalled … if it was something that I would have done, I would have got yelled at, and it normally escalated into domestic violence as well for my mum.
“I can’t speak for my mum but as a child witnessing that, it was horrific.
“We never seen him hit her but we heard it and hearing the thumps and the thuds and hearing her yells, and having these images in your mind of what potentially was going on.
“Almost always afterwards he would throw her into our bedroom and have her tell us it was her fault, that she deserved the beating that she’d just got.
“He wasn’t physically violent to me, I have witnessed him being physically violent with one of my other sisters … we were on holidays and we were in the villa beside them, they were connected, I had come walking up the path to go to my villa and he was literally throwing my sister across the room, and I walked into their villa and took her out of it at that point.
“He would threaten me with physical violence if I said anything, he had told me that if I told anybody, he broke down and cried and told me he would go to jail if I told anybody, and that if he went to jail then we would be on the streets, that my brother and I would end up in an orphanage and wouldn’t see our mum again.”
She said he would threaten to kill her mother.
“He had threatened at one point to burn the house down with my mum and my sisters in it,” she said.
Ms Brown was 27 when she heard Mr Tweed had abused others, and said the guilt of not having spoke up as a child almost “destroyed her”, and “almost drove her to take her own life”.
Ms Brown said she did not feel mentally strong enough at the time to challenge the quashing of his convictions. She described feeling devastated at the time
She said she felt “peace” when she heard he had died.
“But also peace that he can’t hurt anyone else anymore.
“It’s almost like there has been some sort of karmic justice where the legal system failed us.”