Le Vell Rape Trial: Corrie Star Not Guilty

Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has said he is "delighted" after being found not guilty of child sex abuse charges, including rape.

Mr Le Vell, 48, who was on trial under his real name Michael Turner, breathed out and said "thank you" as the jury's verdicts were announced.

He had maintained his innocence throughout and was cleared of 12 child sex offences.

The actor held his head up as the male foreman began giving the verdicts to a hushed and packed courtroom after around five hours of deliberations.

His brother and sisters, who sat in the public gallery, were in tears as the verdicts were delivered. One man shouted "get in" when the last verdict was read out.

Surrounded by supporters outside court, Mr Le Vell said the verdict was a "big weight off everyone's shoulders".

He added: "I might go and have a drink now."

Asked when he would return to Coronation Street, Mr Le Vell replied: "I don't know, I might have a holiday first. I'll have to go and have a chat with my boss."

A Coronation Street spokeswoman said: "We are looking forward to meeting with Michael to discuss his return to the programme."

His accuser, who cannot be named, was not in court for the verdicts, but she had earlier sobbed as she claimed Mr Le Vell - known to millions as the ITV show's Kevin Webster - raped her as she clutched a teddy bear.

The charges included five of rape.

The eight female and four male jurors had been told they had to decide whether the alleged victim was telling the truth or had set out to "quite literally destroy the life" of the accused.

During the eight-day trial the "demons" in Mr Le Vell's private life were laid bare - his alcoholism and womanising while his wife battled breast cancer.

The court heard of his "dark secret" - that he had enjoyed a string of one-night stands behind the back of his wife of 25 years, Janette Beverley.

And he had abandoned the family home to get drunk in the pub each night.

But while Mr Le Vell might be described as a "weak, stupid and drunk man" and a "bad husband", he was not a child rapist, the jury was told.

It was a "strange case of child rape" without any DNA evidence or injuries to the alleged victim, who claimed she had been raped and abused while a young girl, his legal team said.

One of his supporters and close friend Nigel Pivaro, who played Terry Duckworth in Coronation Street, said: "He has suffered two years of hell and probably more also due to his high profile far more than most.

"It has been a long journey for him. Now the jury has spoken, he can pick up his career and his life."

Mr Le Vell was initially arrested on September 30, 2011, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided not to proceed with the case.

After a review of the evidence following fresh allegations by the girl, he was re-arrested and charged in February 2013.

A CPS spokesman said: "This case was reviewed in great detail, and the evidence subject to careful scrutiny before a decision was taken to prosecute.

"On the basis of the reviews the CPS concluded that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.

"As these were very serious allegations of child sexual abuse it therefore followed that it was in the public interest to place that evidence before a jury at court."

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

He did not appear in any episodes of the soap during the legal proceedings.