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Saturday 20 September 2014

Rape accused Roache has 'stuck to the script'

Kim Pilling

Published 31/01/2014 | 02:30

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Coronation Street actor Bill Roache (second right) arrives at Preston Crown Court with his sons, James (far left), Linus and daughter Verity. PA
Coronation Street actor Bill Roache (second right) arrives at Preston Crown Court with his sons, James (far left), Linus and daughter Verity. PA

Coronation Street star William Roache was "sticking to his script" when lying that he did not sexually abuse five young girls, a jury was told.

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Mr Roache (81), who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, is accused of using his fame and popularity to exploit "starstruck" youngsters nearly 50 years ago.

His trial has heard that the complainants, who did not know each other, apart from two sisters, claimed they had been assaulted while at Granada Studios, in his car or at properties he owned.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte began her closing speech at Preston Crown Court with the observation: "Well, members of the jury, someone is lying.

"Five complainants have made sexual allegations against William Roache.

"He is emphatic that it just did not happen. He either did it or he did not. He is lying or literally all of them are."

If he was telling the truth, he was the victim of a "huge, distorted and perverse witch-hunt" at the hands of five women who had come from all parts of the country to deliver their evidence in Preston.

She continued: "One important question that you are going to frankly have to ask yourselves is who has the most to gain in lying? Is it someone like (an alleged victim) or is it the enduringly popular Mr Roache?

"Who, of all the witnesses, is most used to rehearsing what he has to say and sticking to his script? Is it someone like (another alleged victim) or is it the actor William Roache, a man who has spent his entire life learning lines and delivering them for public consumption?"

Mr Roache, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, denies two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault involving the complainants aged 16 and under between the mid-1960s and early 1970s.

The prosecutor said that if Mr Roache was telling the truth then three of the complainants "must be mad".

"They have nothing in common," said Ms Whyte. "And yet they are all saying something of a broadly similar nature and at a broadly similar point in time."

Ms Whyte told the jurors to disregard celebrity witnesses in this case.

"What matters here is ordinary people," she said.

"People like you who sit on juries and people like the witnesses you have heard from."

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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