Jeffrey Donaldson will face trial on abuse charges judge rules

Jeffrey Donaldson will face trial on abuse charges judge rules

JEFFREY DONALDSON and his wife will face trial over historical sex offence charges, a judge has ruled.

Mr Donaldson, the former MP for Lagan Valley, is accused of 18 sex offences involving two alleged victims.

He is charged with rape, plus four counts of gross indecency and 13 counts of indecent assault

His wife, and co-accused, Eleanor Donaldson faces five charges of aiding and abetting between 1987 and 2008, in connection with the alleged offences.

Jeffrey Donaldson pictured leaving Newry Courthouse yesterday

The couple appeared at Newry Magistrates’ Court on July 3 for a preliminary enquiry to establish if there is sufficient evidence for the case to go to trial at the Crown Court.

Judge Eamonn King said there was and set a hearing for September 10.

"I am satisfied on the basis of the papers before the court that there is a prima facie case to answer," the judge said.

Mr Donaldson said he will “strenuously deny” the charges, in a letter sent to the Democratic Unionist Party in March in which he announced his decision to resign as leader of the party.

The couple were arrested at their home on March 28 of this year. They were later charged and released on bail.