Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Jury sent out in Le Vell rape case

The jury in the trial of Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell have begun considering their verdict
The jury in the trial of Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell have begun considering their verdict

The jury in the trial of Coronation Street's Michael Le Vell have been told it must decide if the alleged victim is telling the truth or set out to "quite literally destroy the life" of the actor.

The eight women and four male jurors were sent out to consider their verdicts after being told by Judge Michael Henshell that their assessment of the alleged victim was "critical in this case."

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 youngster, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The actor, a father of two, sat listening to final legal submissions as his family members watched from the public gallery beside press benches packed with reporters at Manchester Crown Court.

An upstairs public gallery was also filled with members of the public awaiting the outcome of the week-long trial.

Le Vell, being tried under his real name of Michael Turner, denies 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.

Earlier Eleanor Laws QC, prosecuting, told the jury the "courage" of the alleged sex abuse victim must be marked by guilty verdicts if she was telling the truth.

Alisdair Williamson then gave the closing speech for the defence, telling jurors the girl's claims were "inconsistent, incoherent and unbelievable."

Summing up the evidence before sending the jury out, Judge Michael Henshell warned: "Do not allow sympathy to cloud your judgment for either side." And he said what jurors had made of the girl's tearful testimony was vital in deciding their verdicts.

He said if the Crown was right and she was a truthful witness then she was someone who was recalling traumatic events from an early age. The other side of the coin was that she was "dishonest" and had come to court to "quite literally destroy" the life of the defendant, he said.

The jury was sent out at 3.51pm to consider its verdicts but told by Judge Henshell they should use the time left to select a foreman. He said they would have the rest of the week to deliberate.

Jurors were brought back into court at 4.20pm and sent home to continue their deliberations in the morning.

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Your dry humour will be very popular. It's always difficult bringing a large group of people together. Everybody feels like they are walking on eggshells. After cracking a few jokes, you'll put the group at ease. Resist the temptation to make fun of relatives, especially the more sensitive members of the group. Nobody likes feeling singled out. Watching a light hearted comedy can also be a great way to generate a festive atmosphere. This is a time when people can put their differences aside.More