Jeffrey Donaldson appears in court over historical abuse charges

Jeffrey Donaldson appears in court over historical abuse charges

JEFFREY DONALDSON has appeared in court charged with 11 offences relating to historical sexual abuse.

The 61-year-old, who stepped down as leader of the DUP after being charged last month, appeared at Newry Magistrates' Court this morning alongside his wife, Eleanor Donaldson.

She faces charges of aiding and abetting some of the alleged offences.

There were chaotic scenes outside the courthouse as Mr Donaldson, the MP for Lagan Valley, attempted to leave at the end of the brief hearing.


Mr Donaldson is facing 11 charges, including one count of rape, one count of gross indecency towards a child and nine counts of indecent assault.

The offences are alleged to have taken place between 1985 and 2006 and relate to two complainants.

Mrs Donaldson, 57, faces four charges — two of aiding and abetting some of the alleged offences involving her husband and two of cruelty.

The pair stood together in the dock, separated by a custody officer, as the charges were read out.

Abuse was shouted towards Mr Donaldson as he departed (Image: Charles McQuillan / Getty Images)

Both spoke only to confirm their names, dates of birth and that they understood the charges against them.

They were released on continuing bail of £350 each following the seven-minute hearing.

The pair are permitted to communicate with each other but can have no contact with witnesses.

The case is due to return to court on May 22, although neither is obliged to attend the hearing.

Chaotic scenes

Ahead of today's hearing, Mr Donaldson remained silent as he was escorted by police into the courthouse through a throng of reporters firing questions in his direction.

Upon exiting, the MP was again met with a large media presence, while some members of the public jostled with police escorting Mr Donaldson and shouted abuse at the politician.

Following the chaotic scenes, Mr Donaldson briefly returned to the courthouse, before exiting a short time later and swiftly departing in a waiting car.