Coronation Street’s Michael Le Vell has been cleared of child sex abuse charges and walked from court a free man.
The actor, 48, who enjoyed a “luxury, charmed life”, had maintained his innocence throughout and was acquitted of 12 serious child sex offences.
He heard the foreman of the jury deliver the not guilty verdicts to a hushed and packed courtroom at the end of an eight-day trial at Manchester Crown Court.
His victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was not in court to hear the verdicts but the “bubbly, lovely, naive” youngster had earlier sobbed as she claimed Le Vell, known to millions of TV fans as Coronation Street‘s Kevin Webster, raped her as she clutched a teddy bear.
Her claims were dismissed by the jury after being described in court as “inconsistent, incoherent and unbelievable”.
Alisdair Williamson, defending said the case was “a prosecution by cliche” – decrying how much had been made of Le Vell’s “demons” – his drinking and one-night stands.
He said the defendant in the witness box was clearly a “scared and frightened” innocent man accused of “the most unbelievable and terrible thing”.
The actor, from Hale, Cheshire, who has been in the ITV soap for 30 years, faced 12 charges in all – 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.
Le Vell, on trial under his real name of Michael Turner, had maintained his innocence throughout, telling police the girl’s claims were “an absolute pack of lies” and the jury that he was “fighting for his life”.
Le Vell mouthed “thank you” to the jury and raised his hand to them after he was cleared of each of the 12 counts.
He held his head up as the male foreman began giving the verdicts. On the fourth count of not guilty he nodded his head in agreement with them.
His brother and sisters, who sat in the public gallery, were in tears as the verdicts were delivered. Cries of relief were then heard as he left the courtroom a free man, with his family members.
The jury deliberated for just short of five hours.