Pictured: John with his 13-year-old daughter
A furious father has slammed an Australian court for allowing a Dutch Tour de France cyclist to leave the country with only a fine after viciously assaulting his 13-year-old daughter and her friends.
Mathieu van der Poel avoided jail after attacking the girl who was playing ‘knock and run’ with her two friends, who were sisters on a joint family holiday, on his hotel room in Sydney.
The cyclist was found guilty of two charges of common assault after he knocked one girl to the ground and pushed another against a wall, grazing her elbow, at the Novotel in Brighton Le Sands on Saturday.
But yesterday, he returned to the Netherlands after paying the $1,500 fine (£900).
The father of one of the girls, named only as John, told Daily Mail Australia the cyclist should be behind bars and his daughter has been having nightmares ever since.
He said: ‘If I assaulted children, I’d be locked up in jail for a year because I can’t afford bail. Child abuse is a big thing.’
Van der Poel, 27, said the children didn’t stop the knock-and-run prank even after his girlfriend, Roxanne Bertels, asked them to.
But instead of alerting hotel staff, van der Poel decided to chase them into the opposite room.
Shocking photos obtained exclusively by Daily Mail Australia show the athlete – dressed only in black briefs – leaning over a schoolgirl who was crouching on the floor and covering her face in terror.
When another girl, age 13, tried to escape the room, van der Poel pushed her into a wall with both hands, causing her to fall to the ground.
John is pictured with his three children. One of his daughters, 13, was assaulted by the cyclist
John, 43, said his daughter has been having nightmares about the assault.
‘We went to the hospital on Sunday and I’m taking her to the psychologist because she’s scared,’ he said.
‘She’s worried she’s in trouble and has done something wrong because some people are blaming her and me, saying it was the girls’ fault and I’m a bad parent, but it was the school holidays – what kids at that age are going to bed at nine o’clock?’
He explained the kids shouldn’t have been playing the game, but that it didn’t justify van der Poel’s ‘unbelievable’ behaviour.
Despite reports that the hotel phoned police, John said it was his terrified daughter who alerted the authorities.
Novotel refused to comment when contacted by Daily Mail Australia.
Pictured: Mathieu van der Poel leaning over a young girl – wearing only black briefs
Upon landing at Brussels airport on Tuesday en route to his homeland, van der Poel told local press he didn’t handle the situation well, but insisted: ‘I am not an aggressive person.’
‘I grabbed one of the girls by the arm but certainly not with the intention of hurting her,’ he said at the airport on Tuesday, as passers-by started filming the interview on their phones.
‘Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve never hurt anyone … Of course I regret it, I made a mistake.
‘In retrospect, I know I could have acted differently … I should have called reception or let someone know, but thought I could fix the problem myself. It went wrong.’
He was in Sydney for the UCI Road World Championship race – a 266.9km race being held in Wollongong, south of the city – but withdrew because he was released from police custody at 4am on the morning of the race.
According to court documents, van der Poel grabbed a 14-year-old by both of her arms, squeezing them and pushing her against a wall while yelling at her. She a carpet burn graze to her right elbow and redness to her left forearm.
Van der Poel’s girlfriend Roxanne Bertels (pictured together). He was fined $1500 over the assault
Upon landing a Brussels airport on Tuesday, van der Poel (pictured at the airport) told local press he didn’t handle the situation well, but insisted: ‘I am not an aggressive person
The 13-year-old ‘was in the same room’ while the cyclist was assaulting the other girl. She then ‘attempted to leave the room’.
Van der Poel then walked over and pushed her against a wall ‘using two open hands’ which caused her to fall ‘to the ground’.
The cyclist then went back to his room and police arrived about five minutes later. van der Poel admitted following the girls and yelling at them.
On Tuesday, the sisters’ father Emad supplied a photo of his daughter’s injury showing layers of skin rubbed off in a nasty carpet burn.
Emad said the angry cyclist was also ‘yelling at my youngest, the 12-year-old, saying “were you doing this as well” and she was freaking out. They are very shaken.
‘But they did get in trouble. They are in trouble,’ he said about the ‘knock and run’ prank the girls had engaged in before an enraged van der Poel lashed out at them.
‘He’s got every right to get angry, but not to do what he did.
‘They’re tiny little girls, and he’s massive.’
The young girls (pictured) who were caught up in the terrifying incident last Saturday in Sydney
The girls’ father, Emad, (pictured) said his daughters had been ‘a bit naughty’ and that the cyclist ‘got every right to get angry, but not to do what he did’
The girls’ father, Emad, exclusively showed the video of the incident to Daily Mail Australia and supplied a photo of his daughter’s injury, with layers of skin rubbed off in a nasty carpet burn (pictured)
Emad described the ‘nice weekend in town’ his wife, her friend, and their four daughters were enjoying in the beachside hotel before van der Poel’s extraordinary assaults.
‘My wife’s angry that he’s fled the country as well as what he did,’ Emad said.
The cyclists competing in the final event on Sunday of the UCI Road World Championship had been housed in hotels across Sydney due to room shortages.
After dinner, the two mothers went into their shared hotel room, while the four young girls began to play up next door.
‘Look, I did things when I was their age, but the younger one had Covid only a few weeks ago and this was their time out,’ Emad said.
‘They were excited… but then they were a bit naughty.’