Monday 20 November 2017

Ex Corrie star denies grooming boy as accuser breaks down in court

Former Coronation Street actor Andrew Lancel
Former Coronation Street actor Andrew Lancel

Paul Keaveny

THE dancer who claims a former Coronation Street actor sexually abused him when he was a schoolboy broke down in tears in court today after he was accused of making up a "malicious lie".

Andrew Lancel, 42, was charged last November under his real name Andrew Watkinson.

The actor, from Gateacre in Liverpool, is best known for his role as Frank Foster in the ITV soap.

Lancel has pleaded not guilty to six counts of indecent assault of a child under the age of 16 and is on trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

The charges relate to one male victim and the offending allegedly took place between 1993 and 1994 when he was aged 14 and 15.

Today his accuser, now aged 34, was cross examined by Andrew Menary QC, defending.

In a tense morning of questioning Mr Menary challenged various aspects of the accuser's account of what happened.

The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, claims he was aged just 14 and was "star struck" by Lancel when the abuse began.

He says the actor targeted him when he was performing in a production at a theatre group in Southport and would take him out for coffees before indecently assaulting him on numerous occasions over the next three years.

But Mr Menary said the fact was that the defendant simply befriended him.

He said: "You understand that Andrew Lancel denies that there was ever any abuse. You understand that don't you?"

The man, now a professional dancer, responded: "I understand that he is denying it."

Mr Menary said: "There was never any abuse at any time was there?"

"That's not true," the man responded.

Mr Menary went on to say there was "never any intimacy or inappropriate contact" between them "at any age".

The man replied: "That's completely not true."

Mr Menary added: "For whatever reason you have made up what is a malicious lie about him."

The man repeated: "That's completely not true."

The barrister then went on to point out inconsistencies in the accounts the man had given to the police and to his counsellors.

The man said it had been hard for him to talk about it and that he had been "embarrassed" to admit that he had continued to have sexual contact with the defendant into his early 20s when they were living in London.

At certain points throughout the evidence Lancel, dressed in a black suit and striped tie and wearing thick rimmed black glasses, shook his head and folded his arms.

Mr Menary went on to accuse the man of telling some people the abuse happened when he was 13, and not 14.

"I might have said to somebody in the past it began when I was 13," he said.

He said it had taken him a long time to "come to terms with" and began to cry.

Mr Menary asked if he need a break.

The man, who told the court he was straight, replied: "No, I want to answer this question."

He repeated he was "embarrassed" by what he claims happened.

Judge Clement Goldstone QC, the Recorder of Liverpool, then interjected and asked the man if it was true that he told people he was 13 and not 14 because he was embarrassed that he had not done anything about the alleged abuse and that he could "justify" it more if he told people he was 13.

The man nodded and then broke down, covering his face and looking away from the dock.

The judge then adjourned the hearing for a short break.

The prosecution claim the defendant, who is married with a son, used his "status" as an actor to flatter and gain the trust of the boy, whom he knew he was under the age of consent.

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