Michale Le Vell is going through hell and relying on family support to get him through allegations that he raped a child.

The Coronation Street star, 48, who plays mechanic Kevin Webster, is accused of a total of 19 sex crimes including child rape.

His family are standing by him but his sister, Glenis Gill, revealed that the stress of the legal proceedings was taking its toll on the actor.

Le Vell, real name Michael Turner, has been seen looking gaunt and dishevelled in his home neighbourhood of Hale, Greater Manchester.

The Mirror reported he had dropped half a stone in weight after the accusations against him were made public. He was charged in February and goes to trial on 20 March.

Le Vell, who took a hiatus from the long-running soap to fight the allegation, now spends his time in betting shops and local boozers, reported the paper.

"The whole thing came out of the blue," said bar manager sister Gill. "He's obviously going through hell, but at this stage all we can do is support him.

"The whole thing left Michael really shocked. I am just hoping the charges against him will be dropped.

"It is a really tough time for him at the moment and he will be glad when this is all over. But he is bearing up OK.

Le Vell has vowed to "vigorously" protest his innocence at the trial. The troubled actor lashed out verbally at photographers outside Manchester magistrates court where he appeared to answer the charges.

Le Vell is reportedly haunted by fear that he will be axed from Coronation Street - even if he is found innocent at the trial.

He has appeared in the soap from nearly 30 years.

The trial against him came after a review of evidence by the Director of Public Prosecutions. It followed a probe in 2011 which was dropped.