Rugby aces charged with rape
Wigan Warriors have confirmed that two Academy players have been banned from playing and training after appearing in court.
Lewis Heckford and Declan O’Donnell appeared alongside former Academy player Bradley Lawrence at Bolton Crown Court after being charged in relation to an alleged rape and sexual assault in Wigan in 2015.
Heckford, 19, and O’Donnell, 18, currently play for Wigan Warriors Academy while 20-year-old Lawrence has previously been a youth player for the club.
All three have also represented England, playing for youth teams at various age levels.
A spokesman for the club said: “Wigan Warriors confirm that two Academy Players have been charged by Greater Manchester Police following an incident last year.
“In view of a court appearance, the players will not be performing any playing and training duties with immediate effect.
“The Wigan Club will be making no further comment at this stage.”
The offence is alleged to have taken place on September 26, the day after Lawrence and Heckford played for the team which won the Academy Grand Final.
O’Donnell, of Concorde Avenue, Wigan, has been charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual assault.
Heckford, of Malvern Mews, Wakefield, and Lawrence, of Causeway Road, Seaton, Workington, are both charged with one count of rape.
All three spoke only to confirm their names and did not enter pleas as Judge Timothy Clayson felt significant changes are likely to be made to the indictments.
The trio will appear again at the crown court on December 9 for a plea and trial preparation hearing.
A provisional trial date has been set for June 5. All have been released on conditional bail.