'Le Vell is a drunk, bad husband and inadequate father but not a rapist,' lawyer tells court
The "courage" of the alleged sex abuse victim of Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell must be marked by guilty verdicts if she was telling the truth, as the jury was sent out to consider its verdict.
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 QC 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."
The actor, who has played garage mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV1 soap for 30 years, is being tried under his real name Michael Turner at Manchester Crown Court.
He is accused of sexually assaulting and raping a young girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Le Vell, 48, 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.
Miss Laws told the jury: "You are the most important people in the courtroom.
"It is you who decide the facts. At the end of the day it is your collective decision that is important."
Asking jurors to disregard media reports, she said: "Concentrate on what you do know because you, members of the jury, actually saw (the alleged victim) give evidence. No-one else in the courtroom did apart from the judge and barristers."
She said they may have "strong feelings" about these type of allegations.
"For example, before we started this trial, some of you may have thought there seems to be a lot of prosecutions of celebrities," she said.
Live blog: The Michael Le Vell trial
"'Is there some kind of witch-hunt? Has the world gone mad?'
"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.
Miss 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?"
She said Le Vell had only come up with one reason for the allegations and that was revenge against him.
That explanation was "absurd", said the barrister, and "just does not hold water".
Le Vell sat behind Miss Laws in the glass dock and listened intently, often leaning forward.
Miss 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.
Even as the trial date approached she still had a choice as to whether to give evidence as a witness, she said.
The reality was that there was no reason for her to lie, said Miss Laws.
"It is absolutely the truth," she said. "There is no other reason that holds water.
"(The alleged victim) is not hellbent on revenge."
She added: "You remember her as bubbly, lovely, naive, so lovely... she was not twisted."
She was not "bitter" or "troubled" and what she was saying was the "uncomfortable truth".
Miss Laws said no-one could say that because the defendant was an alcoholic and had extra-marital affairs meant that he was a child abuser.
But he was "a troubled man" who committed the offences when in drink, she said.
Miss Laws said: "Bear in mind what this witness has put herself through over a long period of time.
"What has she got to gain from all of that? Absolutely nothing, unless it is the truth and that is what she wants to tell you.
"If you are sure that she is telling the truth and not lying, then it is your duty to mark her courage from the witness box with convictions."
Alisdair Williamson then gave the closing speech for the defence.
Addressing the eight women and four men on 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?
"Not there, simply not there."
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 according to who she's talking to."
Mr Williamson said the defendant was a "drunk, bad husband and inadequate father" whose behaviour was sometimes "terrible", but he is not a child rapist.
He said no child pornography was found on 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.
"Nothing to support this girl's inconsistent, incoherent and unbelievable account."
Mr Williamson said the girl had been described as a "lovely" and polite, well-brought up youngster.
"I'm sure she is," he said, "but she's damaged."
He continued: "This has been, you may have thought, a prosecution by cliche.
"Mr Turner drinks a lot, he has his demons. What's that supposed to mean?
"He has troubles. What's that supposed to mean?
"That's all the Crown can come up with for a motive."
Mr Williamson then asked the jury to consider Le Vell's own evidence from the witness box during a "ferocious cross-examination" by prosecutor Miss Laws QC.
"Did you think he was acting or was his evidence the scared and frightened evidence of a man who faces the most unbelievable and terrible thing ever to happen to a man - a girl saying he raped her?"
Mr Williamson asked jurors to find the prosecution's "killer point" to convince them the defendant was guilty.
"There was nothing, whatsoever," he told them.
"He's a man, a weak man, a stupid man, a drunk man, but nothing in this case has taken you anywhere near, I suggest, the level of certainty you would need so you can look in the mirror in the days that come and say 'I was sure'.
"Without forensic evidence, without blood, without ejaculates, without consistency, 'I was sure'.
"I suggest you can't be.
"On each of these counts, the only fair, the only right thing to do is not guilty."
Summing up the trial, Judge Michael Henshell said both 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."
Signs of distress in the witness box were not a reliable guide to the truth, he said.
He told the jury that a "late complaint" of abuse did not necessarily mean it was false, while conversely an immediate complaint was not always true.
The alleged victim's state of mind and maturity at the time of the allegations should be taken into account, while Le Vell deserved to be treated as a man of good character having not previously been arrested.
The judge said the jury's assessment of the alleged victim was "critical in this case".
He said if the Crown was right and she was a truthful witness then she was someone who was recalling traumatic events from an early age.
The other side of the coin was that she was "dishonest" and had come to court to "quite literally destroy" the life of the defendant, the court heard.
The jury was sent out at 3.51pm to consider its verdicts.
Judge Henshell told the jury he was not expecting any verdicts tonight and they should use the time left today to select a foreman.
He said he would call them back in at 4.20pm and send them home for the evening. He said they would have the whole day tomorrow to deliberate and the rest of the week.
"There is no question of you being rushed," he said.