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Accuseds father issued threats; said he had 'friends in high places' and 'he knew Freemasons'

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BBC News

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Coach's father 'issued threats'

Masonic Tennis

The tennis coach denies sexually assaulting the girl from Merseyside

The father of a tennis coach threatened the family of the 13-year-old girl his daughter is accused of sexually abusing, a court has heard.

Colin Lyte, the father of former tennis pro, Claire Lyte, told the teenager's family he had "friends in high places" and he "knew Freemasons".

Claire Lyte, 29, is accused of five counts of sexual activity with a child.

Miss Lyte, of Shirley, Solihull in the West Midlands, has denied the charges at Liverpool Crown Court.

The victim's grandmother, aged 89, told the jury on Thursday that her daughter, the alleged victim's mother, had arrived at her home "very very upset" after claiming to have found the coach in bed with her daughter.

The grandmother said she then tried to persuade her daughter to go to the police but she refused saying she was "too ashamed".

Do you (Miss Lyte) realise she's a 14-year-old girl? I called her a paedophile and she said she was not a paedophile.

Alleged victim's sister

The court was told the family of the alleged victim then agreed to meet Ms Lyte and her family at a motorway service station to discuss the situation.

The grandmother said in court: "My daughter said she was going to Knutsford to meet the parents of Claire Lyte and I told her she couldn't drive there alone and I was going too."

She said that at the meeting, Mr Lyte told her his daughter "would never do anything like that'.

"I lost my temper because it was so awful and I stood up and I called her a paedophile," she said.

The woman then said Mr Lyte was initially pleading, but this turned to threats when he told her "he had got friends in high places and he knew Masons".

'Paedophile' accusation

The alleged victim's older sister, then told the court she had discovered romantic text messages on her sister's phone and became suspicious.

In the witness box she repeated what she allegedly said to Miss Lyte: "Do you realise she's a 14-year-old girl? I called her a paedophile and she said she was not a paedophile."

But David Mason, defending, argued the mobile phone number from where the texts were sent belonged to Miss Lyte's mother, Gillian which had been given to the girl's sister some time before the allegations came to light.

He claimed the 25-year-old had lied under the direction of her mother who fabricated the allegations because she was upset her younger daughter's tennis career was coming to an end.

The case continues.

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