London

Tennis coach 'wrote L for loser on daughter's face'

A tennis coach wrote "L for loser" on his daughter's face in permanent marker in his obsessive bid to make her a Wimbledon champion, a jury heard.

John De'Viana, 55, is accused of subjecting his daughters Monaei and Nephe to years of physical and emotional abuse.

Jurors at Snaresbrook Crown Court heard he swore and hit the girls if they didn't perform well in matches.

Mr De'Viana, from Illford, East London, denies two counts of child cruelty.

Monaei De'Viana told his trial: "He was always coach, he was never actually dad. He was awful to me."

She described an incident when she was aged nine or 10 in which her father allegedly wrote "L for loser" on her face at a training session and locked her in a caravan.

'Punched and kicked'

The 21-year-old told jurors of another incident after a tournament where he was "hitting me around the head, shaking my head and screaming at me".

About five years later, Ms De'Viana said she had a panic attack after her father stormed out of a match because she was losing.

He then bought fish and chips but threw hers away, leaving her without food that evening, the court heard.

Her sister Nephe, now 19, said he punched and kicked her after one training session, with his hand over her mouth to stop her screaming.

She was once a poster girl for the Lawn Tennis Association and featured on their adverts alongside Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, the court heard.

Mr De'Viana's defence council, Tara Adkin QC, told Monaei: "Your father says he never swore at you or put you down because that wouldn't have made you any better, it would damage your confidence."

The trial continues.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites