Monday 22 January 2018

Coronation Street rape case jury told: girl had no reason to tell lies

'Coronation Street' actor Michael Le Vell outside Manchester Crown Court
'Coronation Street' actor Michael Le Vell outside Manchester Crown Court

Kim Pilling

The jury in the trial of 'Coronation Street' actor Michael Le Vell has been told it must decide if the alleged victim is telling the truth or set out to "quite literally destroy the life" of the actor.

The eight women and four male jurors were sent out to consider their verdicts after being told by Judge Michael Henshell that their assessment of the alleged victim was "critical in this case".

Mr Le Vell (48), who has played garage mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV soap for 30 years, is accused of sexually assaulting and raping the youngster, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The actor, a father of two, sat listening to final legal submissions as his family members watched from the public gallery beside press benches packed with reporters at Manchester Crown Court.

Mr Le Vell, being tried under his real name of Michael Turner, denies five counts of rape, three of indecent assault, two counts of sexual activity with a child, and two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

Earlier the jury was told that the "courage" of the alleged sex abuse victim must be marked by guilty verdicts if she was telling the truth.

TWISTED

His accuser had no reason to lie and the only explanation for her allegations was that it was the "uncomfortable truth", the court heard.

Delivering her closing speech, prosecutor Eleanor Laws urged the jury of eight women and four men to concentrate closely on the evidence of the alleged victim.

"You saw her as bubbly, lovely, naive, so lovely," she said.

"She was not twisted."

Ms Laws told the jury: "It is you who decide the facts. At the end of the day, it is your collective decision that is important.

"No one likes to think that someone they liked or admired has done anything like this."

She said they may also think that it was "such an easy allegation to make" but "difficult to defend".

But crimes like this did take place and could go undetected for years, she said.

Ms Laws continued: "Look very carefully at (the alleged victim's) evidence and cast your mind to this time last week when you were looking at her and listening to her evidence.

"What was your reaction? That is what counts. Nothing more, nothing less.

"Was she a wicked, convincing liar or did you sit there and think to yourself that she was telling the truth because that is all she can do?"

Mr Le Vell sat behind Ms Laws in the glass dock and listened intently.

Ms Laws went on to say that the alleged victim had had several opportunities to withdraw the allegations – including when the Crown Prosecution Service initially reviewed the case and did not press charges.

REALITY

The reality was that there was no reason for her to lie, said Ms Laws.

"It is absolutely the truth," she said. "There is no other reason that holds water.

"(The alleged victim) is not hell bent on revenge."

Alisdair Williamson then gave the closing speech for the defence.

Addressing the jury directly, he began by saying it was a "strange case of child rape" without any evidence of blood or semen or injuries to the alleged victim.

"Welcome to the prosecution's hall of mirrors," he told the jury, "where up is down and left is right."

Mr Williamson suggested the girl had given differing accounts of the frequency and details of the alleged abuse to her mother, her friends and to the police.

"You are going to throw a man's life away? You are going to cast him to the outer darkness of being a child rapist?" Mr Williamson continued.

"Where is the consistency, the solidity of evidence on which you are going to be sure?"

He accused the girl of making "silly" or "ridiculous" details in her story that "doesn't add up".

He added: "There's an agonising lack of detail from this witness. She can't give you details because it did not happen and that's why her story varies."

Mr Williamson said the defendant was a "drunk, bad husband and inadequate father" whose behaviour was sometimes "terrible", but he was not a child rapist.

He said no child pornography was found on Mr Le Vell's computer, no adults he knew were saying he was "odd" or they felt "uneasy" around him – "the sort of evidence these courts hear all the time", the barrister added.

However, in summing up the trial, Judge Henshell said both Mr Le Vell and the alleged victim were distressed at times as they gave evidence.

But he told them: "Do not allow sympathy to cloud your judgment for either side."

The jury resumes its deliberations later today.

Irish Independent

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