Tennis coach dad John De'Viana cleared of abusing his daughters

Isabelle Gerretsen
DeViana

A tennis coach father who was accused of assaulting and verbally abusing his two daughters in an bid to make them Wimbledon champions has been cleared of two counts of child abuse.

John De'Viana was alleged to have beaten and verbally abused his teenage daughters Monaei and Nephe when he thought they were not training hard enough.

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Snaresbrook Crown Court heard how he forced the girls to play tennis from the age of 10, from 5.30am until they went to bed. De'Viana, a former karate champion from Ilford, east London, said that his daughters fabricated the claims after he walked out on their mother in 2011.

Monaei, now aged 21, and Nephe, aged 19, became two of the country's brightest tennis stars under the strict training of their father. Monaei told the court that her father "was always coach, he was never actually dad. He was awful to me."

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The girls' mother, Michelle Horne, said De'Viana forced her daughters to train from a young age, whether or not they wanted to. But Defence lawyer Tara Adkin QC said that Horne was trying to rewrite her daughters' childhood. "You have tried to present it as cruelty during tennis training when it was nothing of the sort," she said.

The evidence De'Viana's daughters and their mother gave was inconsistent with the accounts presented by other witnesses.

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His LTA colleague Geoff Thompson said that he had never heard De'Viana swearing at his daughters while they were on the court. He added that his colleague's skill lay in being able to determine how much to push his children, without putting them under undue stress.

"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, according to the BBC.

The prosecutor David Povall told the court: "He made the lives of his two daughters miserable in a variety of different ways, but primarily around his ambition that they should be rich, famous and successful tennis players."

After a two-week trial, judges cleared him of two counts of child abuse. It took the jury one-and-a-half hours to unanimously agree that De'Viana did not abuse and punish his daughters, the BBC report said.

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