Ex-EastEnders actor Des Coleman cleared of gun charge

Des Coleman speaking after the hearing at Huntingdon Crown Court

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A former BBC East Midlands Today weather presenter has been cleared of threatening a driver with an imitation firearm on the M1 in Buckinghamshire.

Des Coleman, 46, of Derbyshire - a star of EastEnders in the 1990s - was accused by Darren Hunter in May 2010.

The judge criticised the prosecution for not checking the credibility of the witnesses, saying Mr Coleman had been "completely exonerated".

The CPS said evidence had come to light which "undermined" its case.

Mr Coleman, of Swadlincote, said he was "relieved" by the outcome at Huntingdon Crown Court.

It was alleged Mr Coleman had driven alongside a car on the M1 and fired an imitation gun at a car being driven by Mr Hunter which was also carrying his partner Laura Coleman.

'Extort money'

Mr Hunter had convictions for so-called road-rage incidents and tried to sell the story about the alleged attack to a national newspaper, the court heard.

Mr Coleman was fired by the BBC from his job as a weather presenter at East Midlands Today several months after he was charged.

The BBC said he had breached editorial guidelines by making a reference to his case on air, when he said: "You cannot believe everything you see or read."

Mr Coleman said after the trial: "Facing seven years in prison from a story that is completely fabricated from somebody who wanted to extort money from you, I am relieved.

"I have a smile in my heart and a positive attitude and I will move on."

'Credibility of evidence'

Mr Coleman was cleared of two charges of possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear or violence.

In a statement released after trial, the CPS said: "The police had been alerted to an allegation that the defendant had pulled a gun on the victims during a road-rage incident.

"The matter was investigated and sufficient evidence was identified at that time to bring charges against Desune Coleman.

"The matter was kept under review and the police and CPS continued to make exhaustive inquiries regarding the credibility and reliability of the evidence relied upon to substantiate the charge.

"Material was identified which undermined the case for the Crown and assisted the defence."

Mr Coleman is perhaps best known for playing the character of Lenny Wallace in BBC One soap EastEnders. He has also worked as a presenter on the One Show.

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