1. ITV Report

Jury retires in trial of Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell

Michael Le Vell has denied all 12 charges of sex offences, including five counts of rape, Photo: Priscilla Coleman / ITV News

The jury has retired to consider its verdict in the trial of Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell for alleged sex offences at Manchester Crown Court.

Le Vell, 48, who has played garage mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV1 soap for 30 years, is accused of sexually assaulting and raping the alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

In summing up the trial, Judge Michael Henshell said both Michael 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.

Michael Le Vell listens as Judge Michael Henshell sums up the case to the jury. Credit: Priscilla Coleman / ITV News

Earlier, the court heard closing speeches from both the prosecution and defence.

Eleanor Laws QC, prosecuting, told the jury Le Vell's accuser had no reason to lie and the only explanation for her allegations was that it was the "uncomfortable truth".

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.

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.

– Eleanor Laws QC, prosecution

Miss Laws also 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 added.

Alisdair Williamson gave the closing speech for the defence. Credit: Priscilla Coleman/ITV News

Alisdair Williamson, defending, said the alleged victim 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?

Where is the consistency, the solidity of evidence on which you are going to be sure?

Not there, simply not there.

– Alisdair Williamson, Michael Le Vell's defence barrister

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."

The jury was sent home for the evening and will return at 10.30am tomorrow to resume its deliberations.

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