The jury in the trial of former Coronation Street actor Andrew Lancel has found him not guilty on four counts of sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy.
Lancel, 42, who played factory boss Frank Foster in the ITV soap, was charged last November under his real name Andrew Watkinson and had pleaded not guilty at the trial at Liverpool Crown Court. The actor, from Gateacre in Liverpool, stood accused of four counts of assault against a youngster dating from 1994 when the alleged victim was a member of a theatre group.
Lancel’s wife Louise, to whom he has been married for eight years, was in the public gallery to see him cleared after the jury took just 29 minutes to find him not guilty of all four counts.
Speaking to the actor’s legal team, Judge Clement Goldstone QC said:
“The defendant was acquitted on the evidence, and rightly so, but it is important that the complainant who is clearly scarred by an experience, should understand that the jury verdicts does not necessarily involve rejection of his account of a sexual encounter or encounters with the defendant.
“It is a statement that the prosecution have failed to make the jury sure that abuse of the type alleged occurred during the period covered by the indictment and in particular before the complainant’s 16th birthday, now more than 18 years ago.”
Outside, Lancel’s lawyer Stuart Nolan said that the actor did not intend to speak to the press immediately but would like to thank friends and family who had stuck with him, before adding that his client just wanted to “spend time with his family”.
Lancel left Coronation Street in March 2012 after his character was at the centre of a whodunit murder storyline. Before his stint on Corrie, Lancel played DI Neil Manson on The Bill. At the time of his arrest, he had been starring in Liverpool as Brian Epstein in the play Epstein: the Man who Made the Beatles.