From the outside, 20-year-old Australian swim coach Kyle Daniels appeared to have a perfect life.
The tall, strong and handsome private schoolboy turned Sydney University student lived in a $3.2 million house with his family overlooking Balgowlah golf course on Sydney’s northern beaches.
Daniels’ father James was a South African advertising guru who had worked as the global creative director of renowned agency Saatchi & Saatchi, based in Singapore.
His mother Janine was a leadership coach specialising in neuroscience.
Born in Johannesburg, Kyle and his identical twin brother Liam had gone to school in South Africa and Singapore before moving to Sydney.
They enjoyed an enviable lifestyle with their corporate executive parents, their English mother internationally credited in leadership development, strategic planning and account management.
In 2014, they left Singapore for Australia and were sent to elite Knox Grammar School.
The twins adapted to Sydney’s beach-oriented lifestyle and excelled in water sports.
Kyle was appointed a school prefect and played first grade water polo.
In 2016, while still in Year 12, Kyle undertook a swimming teacher accreditation course at the Mosman Swim Centre, in one of Sydney’s most expensive suburbs.
He first worked as a teacher at Ravenswood School for Girls, before applying for a position at the Mosman centre in late 2016, and starting a degree in sports science the following year.
Their mother had been appointed head of executive coaching at Bendelta, a “strategic leadership firm committed to actualising individual and collective human potential”.
Kyle and his brother turned 20 in October 2018.
It was the end of their first year of university and the twins looked to be on the path to future success, but in reality storm clouds were already gathering on the horizon for Kyle.
In mid-2018, parents of two young girls aged six and eight who Kyle trained at Mosman Swim School made a complaint to the school.
The allegation was he had allegedly touched a girl between the legs or held her inappropriately during lessons.
Mosman Swim Club placed Daniels under supervision and ordered him not to hold children close to the groin or chest and keep his hands above water.
All swim teachers including Daniels signed an internal swim school memo in August 2018 which covered the appropriate handling of children.
Detective Senior Constable Emma Lay of the NSW Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad was put in charge of an investigation into Kyle Daniels.
In February 2019, the Mosman Swim Centre suspended him from his teaching job.
On the morning of March 12, 2019, Kyle was driving from home to Sydney University when his mother Janine called him.
Police had contacted her telling them they wanted to interview her son, and Kyle drove back to the family home at Balgowlah.
Mother and son sat on the veranda for 20 minutes talking before two detectives and two uniformed officers, a male and female of each, arrived with a NSW Police video crew filming.
Kyle would later tell a court: “Mum invited them inside. They all accepted.
“The six of us walked into the kitchen. Mum offered them food, anything to drink. Detective (Emma Lay) said ‘no, they wouldn’t be long’.
Daniels said the detective asked him to confirm “he was Kyle Daniels and not his twin brother Liam.”
It was just before midday. The detectives handcuffed Kyle and walked him from the house up the footpath to a waiting police wagon.
The footage would later be distributed nationwide to the media. Daniels’ legal team later criticised the police for the manner in which they arrested him.
Kyle was taken to Manly Police Station and charged with two counts of intentionally sexually touching eight girls aged from six to 10 years old between June 2018 and February 2019.
He was refused bail to appear in Manly Local Court.
Janine and James Daniels were reportedly “stunned” by the allegations against their son, who after spending a night in the Manly police cells was taken out to a far western Sydney jail.
Kyle Daniels spent a week at Amber Laurel Correctional Centre at Emu Plains before he successfully applied for bail, a magistrate only granting it with strict night curfew conditions.
On March 20, his parents accompanied by his twin brother collected him at the prison, Kyle still wearing the clothes he was arrested in.
Media tailed the family back to their Balgowlah home.
Kyle Daniels’ life in the glare of the media spotlight had only just begun.
Over the next 18 months, Kyle Daniels would make further court appearances, mostly accompanied by one or both of his parents.
More charges would be laid against him, and charges would be dropped.
On October 26, 2020, Kyle Daniels’ trial began in the NSW District Court before Judge Kara Shead.
Kyle Daniels, who had turned 22 two weeks earlier, pleaded not guilty to 26 charges including multiple counts of having sex with a child under 10 and indecent assault.
The allegations related to nine girls aged between five and 10, and 23 alleged incidents at the Mosman Swim Centre.
Daniels’ barrister Leslie Nicholls slammed the allegations against his client, calling them a “disgrace” and claiming police had changed parts of statements given by the complainants’ families.
Nicholls said the 25m Mosman pool was watched by seven CCTV cameras and all of Daniels’ lessons were watched on by parents and other staff.
During the six week trial, the court heard police interviews with the nine young girls, and prerecorded videos of the girls giving evidence, and from witnesses including distraught parents, and swim centre staff.
Kyle Daniels took the stand, saying the crimes “did not happen”, that he had never put his hand inside any student’s swimmers, nor touched any child on or near the genitals.
Crown prosecutor Karl Prince asked the jury to reject Daniels’ denials, saying he “opportunistically engaged” in the offending behaviour “for his own sexual gratification.”
The jury cleared Daniels of five charges relating to the same girl at 1pm on Thursday, about 3.5 hours after beginning their deliberations.
But an early note to the judge made it clear there were deep divisions.
A second note, advising the five verdicts had been reached, contained a declaration of stalemate on the remaining 21 charges.
By Thursday afternoon the jury had sent a third, reading: “With all due respect we are at a deadlock and no amount of time would result in a different outcome.”
One juror was discharged on Friday due to travel plans and another on Monday due to the northern beaches Covid-19 lockdown.
At about midday on Monday, the remaining 10 jurors wrote yet another note, which Judge Shead described as “expressing in considered and absolute terms that there is no prospect of agreement”.
It came after the jury asked for clarification on the meaning of “reasonable doubt”.
Judge Shead thanked the 10 jurors for their service and discharged them, noting it may be “a relief” for some.
Daniels now faces a potential retrial over the remaining charges, which involve all nine girls.
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