1. ITV Report

Coronation Street's Michael Le Vell raped young girl, court hears

The above video report by ITV News correspondent Damon Green contains flash photography

A girl who claims Coronation Street star Michael Le Vell raped her as she clutched a teddy bear has broken down in tears in the witness box as she told of the abuse.

On the first day of his trial, the actor leant forward in his seat, his face almost touching the glass screen in the dock, grimacing, closing his eyes and repeatedly shaking his head as the girl gave evidence.

The witness broke down in tears minutes after beginning, sobbing throughout. Her identity cannot be made public and she gave evidence behind a curtain, screening her from the public gallery at Manchester Crown Court.

She was given a glass of water before composing herself and continuing to answer questions from Ms Eleanor Laws QC, prosecuting.

A court sketch shows Le Vell in the dock as a witness gives evidence from behind the curtain. Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA

Earlier the jury were told the actor allegedly said to the girl "It's Okay, just keep calm, stay asleep... I'm going to get rid of the evil", as he sexually abused her.

The witness told the jury that during one of the alleged rapes Le Vell told her she "was safe and that he was just getting rid of all the evil and bad that was inside me".

She said the assault was "painful" and that during it "he stopped me speaking by putting one of my favourite teddy bears over my mouth. I could still breathe but I couldn't say anything."

The witness said that after that particular assault "he just sort of got off me and kissed my left cheek and then left".

She said the alleged attacks made her feel "disgusting" and that the experiences "sort of froze" her body and that she did not know what was happening to her.

Another court sketch shows Le Vell behind a glass screen in the dock at Manchester Crown Court. Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA

The girl said some episodes of the alleged abuse lasted around 10 minutes but it "felt like a lifetime".

She said she felt "dirty and disgusting" adding: "I felt really ashamed of myself."

Ms Laws then asked why she did not tell anyone about the abuse earlier.

"I thought I had done something wrong and I could not understand why he was doing it to me," she said.

"And I thought there was evil in me and I thought I was a bad person and I was not."

Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell leaves Manchester Crown Court after the first day of his trial for a series of child sex offences. Credit: PA

Le Vell, 48, who plays car mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV soap, is facing 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.

The actor, who is on trial under his real name of Michael Turner, denies the offences and shook his head, saying "not guilty" in a strong voice as the charges were put to him before his trial began.

Le Vell is one of TV's most famous faces after playing Kevin Webster for the past 30 years.

He first joined Coronation Street in 1983 and quickly endeared himself to fans, who have followed the trials and tribulations of Kevin, from Brian Tilsley's apprentice mechanic through to his stormy marriage to Sally, played by Sally Dynevor.

ITV has said he will not be appearing in any further episodes of the soap pending the outcome of legal proceedings.

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