Coronation Street actor cleared of child sex abuse

Andrew Watkinson posed for photographs with his wife Louise outside court
Image caption Andrew Watkinson posed for photographs with his wife Louise outside court

A former Coronation Street actor has been cleared of four counts of indecently assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

Andrew Watkinson, 42, from Liverpool, had been on trial at Liverpool Crown Court accused of carrying out the offences in the 1990s.

Mr Watkinson, whose professional name is Andrew Lancel, played Frank Foster in the ITV soap.

The jury took 29 minutes to clear the actor.

The judge earlier ordered the jury to find Mr Watkinson not guilty of two further counts.

'Sort of mentor'

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."

The actor was charged in November with indecently assaulting the youngster in 1994 when the pair met at a theatre group.

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

Outside court, Mr Watkinson, who has also appeared in Cardiac Arrest and The Bill, posed for photographers but declined to comment on the case.

His solicitor Stuart Nolan read a short statement on his behalf, which said: "Andrew would like to thank his family and friends and all parties for their support and prayers.

"He just wants to spend time with his family."

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