A PROFESSIONAL darts star accused of a series of rapes and indecent assaults told a court he was being blackmailed by his young accuser.
Tony Eccles, who is on trial at Teesside Crown Court, also said he did not want the police involved as it might harm his career.
He denied apologising to the teenager, now an adult.
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Giving evidence, Mr Eccles spoke of an incident in which he claimed the alleged victim had taken hold of his hand and moved it towards her private parts.
After this, he said, despite nothing happening the complainant began blackmailing him and “wanting this and that”.
The 44-year-old, of Northgate, Hartlepool, said: “I admitted giving her £10 one day. I was taking blackmail.”
Mr Eccles was asked by prosecution barrister Shaun Dodds why he did not fight his corner when the girl’s complaint came to light and seize the opportunity to clear his name.
He said: “I was world number one when they started saying this. I had a good career and the last thing I wanted was the police involved in my life.”
The defendant said it was untrue that he groomed the alleged victim by giving her sweets, CDs and cigarettes.
He also described an allegation that he had sex with her in bushes near his home as a “complete fabrication”.
The darts star became emotional when denying that he raped the complainant on the night his partner’s sister died in hospital.
He revealed he went voluntarily to a police station with his solicitor after a formal complaint was first made against him in 2005, but no action was then taken.
Jim Withyman, defending, asked Mr Eccles if he had apologised to the victim for abusing her, as the Crown alleges.
He said: “Never ever.”
Mr Eccles, who has won more than a dozen major tournaments, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of indecent assault and five rape offences which the complainant says occurred between the ages of 11 and 16 years old.
The trial continues.