Tennis coach cruelty case: Dad says girls did not see abusive notes

John De'Viana Image copyright Central News
Image caption John De'Viana told the court he did not force his daughters to play tennis

A father accused of child cruelty towards his tennis-playing daughters has admitted writing offensive notes to "vent his frustration".

John De'Viana is accused of subjecting Monaei and Nephe to years of physical and emotional abuse as part of an obsessive bid to coach them to stardom.

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard he wrote derogatory comments on match sheets.

But Mr DeViana, 55, who denies child cruelty, said the girls did not know about the notes.

The court heard that in expletive-ridden notes, he referred to Monaei as an "idiot" and said Nephe was "like a dog being told what to do".

He denied he had forced his daughters to play tennis, which he said would be "counter-productive".

Mr De'Viana, from Ilford in east London, is alleged to have beaten Nephe, now 19, behind a curtain at a tennis centre.

Image copyright Central
Image caption Monaei De'Viana (left) and Nephe De'Viana were allegedly subjected to years of physical and emotional abuse

However, a colleague told the jury he could not have done so because there would have been "too many people around".

Geoff Thompson, who Mr De'Viana worked with at the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), told the court the allegation did not fit in with his character, adding: "It would not be possible in a tennis training environment.

"There would be too many people who would witness it, report it or intervene."

'L for loser'

He also told jurors that it would have been "uncharacteristic" and "professionally inappropriate" for Mr De'Viana to have sworn during coaching sessions

Mr Thompson added: "John has a passive style, which is ideally suited to working with young children."

He told jurors it was "widely felt" in the tennis community that Nephe and Monaei, now 21, had "something special".

The court has heard that Nephe was a poster girl for the LTA and featured on its adverts alongside Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.

He told jurors that Nephe had an "edge" and that it would have been impossible to force the girls to play.

"The more pressure, the more intensity you place upon that child, they will simply implode and, in coaching terms, they will simply become passive," he said.

"That was John's skill - to know just how much would be suitable, knowing his daughters' personality," he added.

The trial has heard evidence from Monaei, who described an incident when she was aged nine or 10 in which her father wrote "L for loser" on her face at a training session and locked her in a caravan.

He denies two counts of child cruelty. The trial continues.

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