Roache jurors warned over emotions

Congleton Guardian: Coronation Street actor William Roache denies two counts of rape and four indecent assaults Coronation Street actor William Roache denies two counts of rape and four indecent assaults

Jurors in the trial of Coronation Street star William Roache have been told to leave emotions aside in dealing with a "head-on conflict of evidence".

Roache, 81, who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, is accused of using his fame and popularity to exploit "starstruck" youngsters in the late 60s and early 70s.

His trial at Preston Crown Court, now in its fourth week, has heard from five women who claim he sexually assaulted them when they were 16 or under, either at Granada Studios in Manchester, in his car, or at properties he owned between 1965 and 1972.

In denying all the offences, Roache says he did not even know any of his accusers and had never had a sexual interest in under-age girls.

Summing up the case, Mr Justice Holroyde told the jury of eight women and four men: "There is a head-on conflict of evidence.

"The principal question you will have to ask yourself on each of the charges will be a stark one. Are you sure that Mr Roache committed the sexual act which the complainant says he did?

"Emotions must play no part in your decisions. It would only distract from your solemn duty in accordance with the oath or affirmation you made at the start of the trial to return true verdicts according to the evidence.

"You must put to one side any feelings of sympathy or anger you may have, in one direction or another.

"What is needed is a cool-headed appraisal of the evidence you have heard.

"So concentrate on those aspects of the evidence which you think are important to your verdict.

"The seriousness of the case is obvious but the reality is that jurors up and down the country have to, and do, decide serious cases, so do not be daunted by your task."

He told jurors not to rely on any assumptions they may have made about such cases.

"It is the court's experience that there is no stereotype of a sexual offender or a victim of sexual offence or how a victim of a sexual offence behaves," he said.

"It would be wrong for you to assume that a victim of a sexual offence would necessarily report it at the first opportunity or necessarily remember every detail of it for the rest of her life.

"The simple reality is that sexual offences can be committed in all kinds of circumstances, by and against all kinds of people."

He urged them to disregard any assumptions when deciding "where the truth lies".

Roache, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, is accused of two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault involving the complainants.

The judge then went through the evidence on each count.

Roache is said to have raped one woman at his then bungalow in Lancashire and to have raped her again in an adjoining cottage he owned.

Three of the indecent assaults were said to have taken place inside Granada Studios - in the gents toilets, ladies toilets and a dressing room - while the fourth is alleged to have happened in his Rolls-Royce when he was said to have given a lift home to a complainant.

Mr Justice Holroyde will finish summing up the case tomorrow and will then send out the jury to start its deliberations.

He told them: "When that happens you must take as much time as you want."

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