A former Olympic showjumping coach has denied in court “any sexual interaction” with a teenage girl who claims he raped and sexually abused her over a seven-year period.

John Sillett, who trained riders for the 2016 Rio Games, faces five counts of rape, five of assault by penetration and two of sexual assault.

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, has told the trial that the alleged assaults against the same girl started when the victim was aged between 12 and 13.

The attacks began with the 55-year-old, of Wokingham, Berkshire, groping the girl before he raped and sexually assaulted her on several other occasions, Ms Maylin said.

When asked by his barrister, Martin Liddiard, if he had ever touched the alleged victim in a “sexual way”, Sillett, wearing a white short-sleeved shirt, replied: “No.”

He also denied having “any sexual interaction” with her.

Mr Liddiard added: “Have you done anything that you can think of that can be understood or misunderstood as sexual activity with her?”

Sillett replied: “No.”

The trial has previously heard that the victim had sent Sillett birthday cards and messages after the alleged period of abuse stating that she loved him.

She also made arrangements to meet up with him, including when he was in hospital for treatment for prostate cancer during which he suffered a heart attack in August 2018.

When asked how he felt he got on with the victim, he said: “Very good, I thought.”

He said that they kept in “regular” contact by phone and WhatsApp as well as meeting up.

Sillett said he last met her at her local pub in March 2020, but said this ended “slightly awkwardly” when he turned down a request by her.

He said: “She seemed a little bit upset but not unduly and accepted it.”

Sillett described how he began his career in horse riding after he left school at the age of 16 by working with Ted Edgar, who trained Olympic double gold medallist Nick Skelton.

He said then at the age of 20 he went to the USA to work for British Olympic silver medallist Timothy Grubb for two years.

Sillett said he returned to the UK to continue his career in showjumping and coaching riders to Olympic standard.

The defendant, who was based at the Wellington Riding Centre on the Duke of Wellington’s estate in Hook, Hampshire, denies the charges and the trial continues.