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Michael Le Vell Trial Told To Ignore Celebrity Prosecutions In The Media

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MICHAEL LE VELL
Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell smokes a cigarette outside Manchester Crown Court where he is on trial for a series of alleged child sex offences. | PA

The young woman accusing Michael Le Vell of alleged sex abuse is "bubbly, lovely, naive" and "not twisted" the prosecution has told the court.

Prosecutor Eleanor Laws QC told Manchester Crown Court that her client had no reason to lie and that her allegations were the "uncomfortable truth".

"You saw her as bubbly, lovely, naive, so lovely," she said. "She was not twisted."

She also urged the jury of eight women and four men to ignore strong feelings they may have about celebrity prosecutions.

"No-one likes to think that someone they liked or admired has done anything like this," she said.

The actor, who has played garage mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV1 soap for 30 years, is being tried under his real name Michael Turner.

He is accused of sexually assaulting and raping a young girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Le Vell, 48, 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.

Miss Laws told the jury: "You are the most important people in the courtroom.

"It is you who decide the facts. At the end of the day it is your collective decision that is important."

Asking jurors to disregard media reports, she said: "Concentrate on what you do know because you, members of the jury, actually saw (the alleged victim) give evidence. No-one else in the courtroom did apart from the judge and barristers."

She said they may have "strong feelings" about these type of allegations.

"For example, before we started this trial, some of you may have thought there seems to be a lot of prosecutions of celebrities," she said.

"'Is there some kind of witch-hunt? Has the world gone mad?'

She said they may also think that it was "such an easy allegation to make" but "difficult to defend".

But crimes like this did take place and could go undetected for years, she said.

Miss Laws continued: "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.

"Was she a wicked, convincing liar or did you sit there and think to yourself that she was telling the truth because that is all she can do?"

She said Le Vell had only come up with one reason for the allegations and that was revenge against him.

That explanation was "absurd", said the barrister, and "just does not hold water".

Le Vell sat behind Miss Laws in the glass dock and listened intently, often leaning forward.

Miss Laws went on to say that the alleged victim had had several opportunities to withdraw the allegations - including when the Crown Prosecution Service initially reviewed the case and did not press charges.

Even as the trial date approached she still had a choice as to whether to give evidence as a witness, she said.

The reality was that there was no reason for her to lie, said Miss Laws.

"It is absolutely the truth," she said. "There is no other reason that holds water.

"[The alleged victim] is not hellbent on revenge."

She was not "bitter" or "troubled" and what she was saying was the "uncomfortable truth".

Miss Laws 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 said.

Miss Laws said: "Bear in mind what this witness has put herself through over a long period of time.

"What has she got to gain from all of that? Absolutely nothing, unless it is the truth and that is what she wants to tell you.

"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."