Family in tears as 'Corrie' star Le Vell is cleared on five counts of raping girl
MICHAEL LE VELL, the 'Coronation Street' actor, expressed his relief last night after he was cleared of a string of child sex abuse charges following a high-profile trial.
An emotional Le Vell (48), who has played mechanic Kevin Webster in the soap for three decades, said he was looking forward to a drink after he was found not guilty of 12 charges by a jury at Manchester Crown Court in the UK.
The jury of eight women and four men took just four hours to clear Mr Le Vell, who was charged under his real name Michael Turner, of 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.
Speaking outside court after the verdicts, a clearly relieved Mr Le Vell said: "I am delighted obviously. It's a weight off everyone's shoulders."
Asked what he intended to do next, Mr Le Vell joked: "I might go and have a drink now."
But some of his tearful supporters criticised prosecutors who brought the "flimsy" case, claiming he had been so "ferociously" targeted that he had been left "fighting for his life".
The teenage girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had claimed the assaults began when she was six years old.
The allegations first emerged in September 2011 after she and her mother attended a motivational talk by a woman who herself claimed to have been raped as a child.
Mr Le Vell was initially arrested on suspicion of three rapes, but the case was dropped when police told the girl's mother there was not enough evidence to proceed. Months later, the girl's family rang police with "fresh allegations" and later made a complaint that the case was not being taken seriously enough, prompting a review of evidence.
Mr Le Vell was re-arrested and finally charged in February this year – despite the fact there was no medical, forensic or computer evidence and there were no corroborating witnesses.
During the trial, the girl claimed Mr Le Vell had held a teddy bear over her mouth as he raped her, telling her: "It's our little secret, no one needs to know otherwise you'll die and the evil will come over you."
But the court heard that medical experts who had examined the girl had found no clear physical evidence that she had ever been sexually abused.
When she was examined two years after the last alleged attack, tests indicated that she had not had full sex, the jury was told.
The jury was asked to consider whether the alleged victim was a "truthful witness" or someone who had set out to "destroy" Mr Le Vell's life.
During the trial Mr Le Vell's battle with alcohol was laid bare and jurors also heard how he had cheated on his wife while she battled cancer. Last night, a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service defended the decision to bring the case.
The spokesman said: "This case was reviewed in great detail, and the evidence subject to careful scrutiny." (© Daily Telegraph, London)