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Coronation Street star Michael Le Vell has been found not guilty at Manchester Crown Court today after being accused of 12 sex offences against a girl when she was between the ages of six and 14.
Le Vell, 48, real name Michael Turner, was acquitted of all 12 offences by a jury of eight women and four men.
As the verdict was read, Le Vell mouthed ‘thank you’ to the jury but then began visibly crying in the dock and was allowed to hug his family.
It took the jury less than five hours to reach their verdict. Le Vell left court a free man.
Speaking outside court, Le Vell said: “We’re all obviously delighted. It’s a big weight off everyone’s shoulders.”
Upon being asked if he was going to return to Coronation Street, he said: “I don’t know, I might go on holiday first. I’ll have to have a chat with my boss.”
In his closing speech yesterday, defence barrister Alisdair Williamson accused the girl of making up the story and giving conflicting accounts of the alleged abuse.
He also urged jurors not to destroy the actor’s life with a guilty verdict.
Le Vell, who gained national recognition for his portrayal of garage mechanic Kevin Webster in Coronation Street, was also described by Williamson as ‘weak, stupid, a drunk, and a bad father and husband’ but insisted he was not a child rapist.
Le Vell admitted to the court last week of his 30-year battle with booze but has vehemently denied the accusations throughout the trial.
He faced charges including 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.
His older sisters Julie and Susan as well as his brother Phil, who flew in from Australia, have supported Le Vell during the trial.
He was also joined by his on-off Chilean girlfriend Blanca Fouche who has been dating the actor for around five months after splitting with his wife Janette Beverley in 2011 after 25 years together.
More to follow.