Nothing wrong with 'love' letters - Hewitt's wife

2015-02-13 18:14
(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Johannesburg - The wife of former tennis champion Bob Hewitt told the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, that she saw nothing wrong with his letters to a 12-year-old tennis student more than 30 years ago.

Delaille Hewitt said she was aware of one of three letters Hewitt penned to Theresa "Twiggy" Tolken, who has accused him of rape.

Hewitt wrote the letter shortly after returning from a family vacation.

"Tolken was angry with Bob because she hadn't heard from him," Delaille told the court.

Hewitt has pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape, and one of indecent assault, involving Tolken, Suellen Sheehan, and a third woman, who may not be named, in the 1980s and 19990s.

Cross-examined by prosecutor Carin Coetzee, Delaille said there was nothing wrong with her husband, who was 41 years old at the time, writing to a student and referring to her as "my love".

"Bob uses 'my love' to anyone. I do it too to people I'm close too," she said. "I have a lot of men I call 'my love'. It's a word that the Australians use freely," she said.

Hewitt, who wore a blue shirt and blue suit, sat in the dock with his arms folded across his chest. His eyes moved from Coetzee to his wife as she answered questions.

Coetzee asked Delaille what impression she got from reading a letter in which her husband encouraged Tolken to speak to him about "girly things".

In other letters, he said he loved Tolken and that she probably thought of him as a "sex freak".

"There's love and there's love," Delaille told the court.

"Bob had a fatherly love for this girl," she testified, adding that Tolken came from a complicated family.

Coetzee referred her to a portion of the letters in which Hewitt wrote that he could not wait to move to the next phase with Tolken.

Delaille Hewitt replied that her husband was clearly referring to tennis.

She told the court her husband always trained students in phases.

She said there was no way he could have raped the two women or indecently assaulted the third.

She testified that she was always around when he gave his private lessons and that the girls always seemed happy around him.

Inappropriately behaviour

Tolken has testified that Hewitt touched her inappropriately and forced her to perform oral sex on him 34 years ago, when she was 12.

She told the court Hewitt made me her take off her panties and told her to lie on top of him in the bath. She claimed he tried to put his penis inside her.

Tolken told her mother what had happened. A case was opened, but it was not pursued because it was not opened in the area where the alleged incident took place and out of concern for how she would be treated in court.

Sheehan testified that he raped her in 1982 in his car before tennis practice. She was 12-years-old.

Delaille disputed Sheehan's evidence that her husband had white, disgusting thighs, telling the court that she and Hewitt loved to tan.

"He was always brown. His socks and where his speedo is is the only part where he would have been white."

The third woman, who may not be named, testified that Hewitt rubbed himself against her back in an inappropriate way during their private tennis lessons.

Coetzee concluded her cross-examination of Delaille after a short while on the stand.

Hewitt's defence team, which intends calling at least four other witnesses, requested a postponement.

Terry Price, for Hewitt, told the court problems had been experienced getting the four witnesses, who include journalists and Sheehan's parents, to the court.

"The Sheehans are very reluctant to come to court," said Price.

Sheehan has testified that she is estranged from her parents, who refuse to believe her rape allegation and call her a pathological liar.

Hewitt testified on Thursday that Sheehan's parent supported him and disputed their daughter’s claims.

Judge Bert Bam postponed the matter to Tuesday and warned Price to have his witnesses ready by then.

Read more on:    bob hewitt  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  child abuse

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