Belfast Telegraph

Judge to rule on Lancel charges

A former Coronation Street actor will be found not guilty of a third of the child sex charges against him after a judge ruled on his case.

Andrew Lancel, 42, was charged last November under his real name Andrew Watkinson.

The actor, from Gateacre in Liverpool, is best known for his role as Frank Foster in the ITV soap.

Lancel has pleaded not guilty to six counts of indecent assault of a child under the age of 16 and is on trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

The charges relate to one male victim and the offending allegedly took place between 1993 and 1994 when he was aged 14 and 15 and attending a theatre group.

But today Judge Clement Goldstone QC, The Recorder of Liverpool, told the jury that he would order them to find the defendant not guilty of two of the counts as the complainant had agreed while he was being cross examined that he could not definitely say that some of the allegations happened before his 15th birthday. Lancel remains on trial for the further four counts relating to when the complainant was 15.

Today Lancel, wearing a black suit and striped tie, took to the witness box and answered questions from his barrister Andrew Menary QC. He told the jury that "in the back of his mind" he thought the allegations might have something to do with the "horrendous" character Frank Foster, who he played in Coronation Street.

Mr Menary asked the defendant about a text he had received from the complainant - a man who Lancel described as a "mate" who he had known for years and was also invited to his wedding. Lancel said it came at a time when he was playing the "high profile" role of Foster in the soap. Mr Menary asked: "For people who don't know the show. Frank Foster: a likeable character?"

The actor responded: "Not really at all. He was a rapist. Pretty horrendous. I played him for 18 months. It was certainly in the back of my mind."

The actor, who is married with a son, told the jury he was heterosexual and denied having any "intimate contact" with his accuser and a second man who gave evidence in the trial who accused him of performing a sex act on him when he was 15 after giving him a massage.

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