Ex-Coronation St star cleared of sex charges

Andrew Lancel (not pictured), who once played Frank Foster in Coronation Street, has been cleared of charges he indecently assaulted a teenage boy. Photo / APN
Andrew Lancel (not pictured), who once played Frank Foster in Coronation Street, has been cleared of charges he indecently assaulted a teenage boy. Photo / APN

Former Coronation Street actor Andrew Lancel has left a Liverpool court a free man after being cleared of child sex charges.

The 42-year-old, who played Frank Foster in the popular soap, was found not guilty of four counts of indecently assaulting a 15-year-old boy, dating back to 1994.

Lancel, who also had parts in British television shows Casualty and Heartbeat, was said to have "used his status" to "flatter and gain the trust" of his alleged victim.

Lancel denied any sexual activity took place and the claims were said by his barrister Andrew Menary QC to be "malicious lies".

Father of one Lancel was cleared by the jury, which was out for just 29 minutes, following a week-long trial.

Lancel's wife Louise burst into tears in the public gallery when the unanimous not guilty verdicts were delivered at Liverpool Crown Court.

The actor, from Gateacre in Liverpool, was charged in November under his real name Andrew Watkinson. The charges related to one male and the offending allegedly took place between February and December 1994.

It was claimed that abuse started when the actor visited a theatre group in his home town of Southport, Merseyside, where he got to know the victim. The boy was said to be "starstruck" by Lancel, then aged 23, who had just landed a role in the television series Cardiac Arrest.

The jury heard the actor allegedly started taking the teenager for coffee then back to his house where the alleged offending was said to have started.

The prosecution alleged the sexual assaults, including oral sex and sexual touching, were repeated over the course of 1994.

But under cross-examination the claims by Lancel's alleged victim, now aged 34 and a professional ballet dancer, were branded fiction by the defendant's lawyer.

Menary went on to point out inconsistencies in the accounts he gave to police and to his counsellors and suggested he was jealous of Lancel's success and profile, while he was struggling with his own career.

The jury also heard he continued his friendship with the defendant long after the alleged abuse, even contacting other friends on Facebook to get his mobile phone number.

Lancel made 137 appearances in Coronation Street as Frank Foster and 273 in The Bill as Detective Inspector Neil Manson.

- AAP

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