Soap actor faces child sex charges
Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has made his first appearance in court accused of child sex offences.
The star, who plays car mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV soap, appeared at Manchester Magistrates' Court under his real name of Michael Turner.
The 48-year-old has been charged with 19 offences including six counts of raping a child, six allegations of indecently assaulting a child and seven counts of sexual activity with a child.
The alleged offences relate to one complainant and all took place between 2001 and 2010, the court was told.
During the short hearing, which lasted just eight minutes, the defendant, wearing a white shirt and black tie, spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth. Four members of his family sat towards the back of the court on seats usually reserved for officials as the public gallery was packed with members of the media.
District Judge Khalid Qureshi asked Le Vell's solicitor, Richard Gowthorpe, if there was any indication of plea, to which he replied: "No indication of plea today other than the fact that the charges are contested, and will be fully contested in the Crown Court."
Le Vell was first arrested in September 2011 and questioned over alleged child sex offences, but the matter was later dropped. Earlier this month the Crown Prosecution Service said it was in the public interest to charge him with the current offences following a review of evidence.
Mr Gowthorpe told the court the allegations were "most serious" and added: "The circumstances of the arrest and investigation have been unusual. There are 19 charges now and it has been almost 18 months since his arrest."
Le Vell was bailed on condition that he surrenders his passport, does not contact named witnesses and does not have unsupervised contact with any child under the age of 14. The matter was adjourned to Manchester Crown Court on March 20.
The actor, who was following the proceedings from the dock, nodded to the judge when asked if he understood the conditions. He made no comment as he left court.