Tennis coach accused of bullying daughters to make them champions was a

first_imgA tennis coach has been cleared of physically and verbally abusing his daughters in a bid to turn them into Wimbledon champions after a jury decided in just 90 minutes that he was “a pushy parent” and not a cruel father.John De’Viana, 54, was alleged to have taken both girls out of school to enforce gruelling all-day training regimes on them, making them practise from 5.30am until they went to bed.Monaei De’Viana, now 21, had claimed her father spat at her as she was driven back from a tennis tournament because she had not played well enough. She also told the jury about an incident when, at the age of nine or 10, her father wrote “L for loser” on her forehead in permanent marker.Nephe Viana, now 19, was compared to a “dog” and claimed she was forced to carry her kit in a bin liner for not performing in a tournament. A jury cleared him of two charges of cruelty to a person aged under 16, after just an hour-and-a-half of deliberations at Snaresbrook Crown Court.Mr De’Viana broke down in tears and threw his head in his hands as he was cleared and sobbed loudly as he left court.After the case, Mr De’Viana said in a statement through his lawyers that he would “always love” the daughters who accused him of child abuse, adding that he “hopes that one day he can speak to them about what has happened”. His solicitor, Daniel Salter, said in a statement:”This has been a difficult and upsetting time for Mr De’Viana, particularly seeing his daughters giving evidence.”As their father rather than their coach, he loves them and will always love them.”He hopes that one day he can speak to them about what has happened.” John De’Viana outside Snaresbrook Crown CourtCredit:Dominic Lipinski/PA Nephe De'viana was a poster girl for the Lawn Tennis Association  Nephe De’Viana was a poster girl for the Lawn Tennis Association  Nephe alleged she was taken out of sight of other players at Redbrige sports centre in Ilford to be kicked and slapped by her fuming father. John De'Viana outside Snaresbrook Crown Court Summing up the case, Judge Martyn Zeidman QC had told the jury to consider if his actions were “more than being a pushy parent”.Mr De’Viana had told jurors he had said goodbye to the girls after taking them for a tennis session and had not seen them since.”I was pretty tearful because I knew that I didn’t want to leave the girls,” he explained. “I called them both over and put my arms around them and said how much I love them and they were pushing themselves away from me as if it was a joke. They didn’t understand what was going on.”They later alleged he bombarded them with physical and verbal abuse over years of coaching. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Monaei De’Viana told the court her father John, left, wrote on her forehead and shut her in a caravan Both girls were talented and had their picture taken with Andy Murray after they were sponsored by the Lawn Tennis Association.But Mr De’Viana claimed the girls made up the claims when he separated from their mother Michelle Horne amid claims that she cheated on him.He told the court: “I didn’t give them the courtesy of an explanation when I left, they are not feeling too good towards me. I can only assume that they are pretty upset with me as a father.”He insisted he had never forced the girls to do anything they had not wanted to and would never strike or abuse them. Monaei had also claimed Mr De’Viana hit Nephe for not playing well enough.Mr De’Viana had categorically denied all allegations of swearing or violence towards the children, describing the latter as “simply impossible”.He added: “You can’t force a child to play a particular sport especially when that child is developing at a phenomenal rate and there’s many psychologists and reports from a governing body monitoring her rise though the ranks.”Mr De’Viana, of Ilford, Essex, was cleared off two counts of cruelty to a person aged under 16. Both girls gave up tennis after their parents separated. Monaei De'Viana, right, told the court her father John, left, wrote on her forehead and shut her in a caravanlast_img