DARTS ace Tony Eccles has appeared in court with his brother accused of raping and sexually assaulting a girl two decades ago.

Mr Eccles - known as The Viper during his playing career - and elder sibling Glen both denied a string of charges yesterday.

It is alleged they abused the girl - aged under 16 - throughout the mid- to late-1990s at Mr Eccles's home and in public places.

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The men stood side-by-side in the dock at Teesside Crown Court as the 14 charges of rape and indecent assault were put to them.

Now-retired darts player Mr Eccles, 44, from Hartlepool, pleaded not guilty in a firm voice to each of the ten counts he faces.

His 46-year-old brother, from Norton, near Stockton, similarly denied the four accusations which have been made against him.

A trial - expected to last for at least five days - is scheduled to begin at the Middlesbrough court rooms on June 9.

The brothers were given bail until the next hearing - on condition that they have no unsupervised contact with under-18s.

Richard Herrmann, for Glen Eccles, said his client was keen to prove he was elsewhere when the attacks are said to have happened.

"He is undertaking his own investigations in relation to events and important dates in the past which may help his case," he said.

Glen Eccles, of Trefoil Court, Norton, is charged with two rapes and two indecent assaults.

His brother, of Northgate, on the Headland, Hartlepool, faces five charges of both rape and indecent assault.

In 2005, he won the Dutch Open, the England Open and the Sweden Open, and followed it up the next year with the Norway Open.

He was seeded five for the world championships in 2006 and fourth the following year as he career looked to be taking off.

In April 2007 he won the Norway Open for the second consecutive year, but struggled to maintain top form after that.

Last month, he announced his retirement from the professional game after bowing out of the 2014 BDO world championships.