Liverpool

Coronation Street actor Andrew Lancel on trial over child sex offences

Andrew Lancel
Image caption Andrew Lancel denies six counts of indecent assault

A former Coronation Street actor "used his status" to "gain the trust" of a boy he went on to indecently assault, a court has heard.

Andrew Watkinson, 42, from Gateacre, Liverpool, is accused of abusing the boy, then aged 14, between 1993 and 1994.

The actor, who uses the stage name Andrew Lancel, played Frank Foster in the ITV soap.

He denies six counts of indecent assault of a child under the age of 16.

Kim Whittlestone, prosecuting, told the jury at Liverpool Crown Court the abuse started when the actor visited a Merseyside theatre group where he got to know the boy.

She said the boy was "starstruck" by Mr Watkinson who had just secured a role in the television series Cardiac Arrest.

'Gain trust'

The court heard the actor would "compliment" the boy, telling him he had talent and "could go places".

Mr Watkinson, then aged 23, allegedly started taking the teenager for coffees, then to his house where the offending was alleged to have started, the jury was told.

After one early meeting, they went into an upstairs study where "the defendant began to touch him over his underwear".

The court was told the victim felt he could not tell the defendant to stop because he was "embarrassed and confused" as Mr Watkinson was an adult and a friend.

The prosecution say Mr Watkinson "had every intention" of turning the friendship into a sexual one, with the following assaults including oral sex.

There was more sexual contact between the two in London when the victim was 20, the jury was told.

Miss Whittlestone said: "He says that this happened as he felt belittled by the defendant and still felt, despite his age of 20 years and the defendant being 29 years of age, that he couldn't say no."

'Off the rails'

After Miss Whittlestone opened the prosecution's case, the complainant, who cannot be identified, was brought into court and the jury was shown his police interviews.

He spoke about how his life had gone "off the rails" and that he contacted police after a girlfriend told him that he needed "to get help".

He said: "I always felt really awkward around him and I was very ashamed by what happened and I had never really acknowledged it."

Miss Whittlestone said Mr Watkinson told the victim that he would get into "big trouble" if anyone ever found out and that the boy could "make a lot of money" if he told anyone about it.

She added: "The prosecution case is that the defendant used his status as an actor at that time to flatter and gain the trust of the victim.

"He knew he was under the age of consent, but despite that would progress their relationship and made it sexual. Something that he knew as an adult of 23 years of age was wrong."

Mr Watkinson, who appeared in Coronation Street between January 2011 and March 2012, denies any sexual contact ever took place and instead says he acted as a "sort of mentor" to the boy.

The trial continues.

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