Teenage rugby player cleared of rape

A teenage rugby player from Wakefield accused of rape nearly two years has been cleared of all charges.

Lewis Heckford, 19, along with two teammates from Wigan Warriors, were accused hours after helping their team win the Academy Grand Final in 2015.

All three spent a year on bail before being charged with the allegations.

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Heckford, along with 19-year-old Declan O’Donnell and 22-year-old Brad Lawrence had denied any wrongdoing and were finally told at Bolton Crown Court that prosecutors were offering no evidence in relation to their case.

Friends of the trio say their lives “have been made hell” in the intervening two years.

The RFL is understood to have banned the three players from any involvement in rugby league activity while the court case was ongoing.

Heckford, an England Youth and Academy standout, remains contracted to Wigan Warriors.

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The case, which revolved around claims made regarding the night of September 26, 2015, did come to trial, on one occasion in June.

But the jury was discharged by a judge only a few hours into the hearing.

A date was initially set for a fresh trial to take place in November, before the players were asked to reattend court, so the proceedings could be formally dismissed.