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Thursday 21 August 2014

Judge warns jurors to ignore their emotions in Roache trial

Kim Pilling

Published 04/02/2014 | 02:30

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Coronation Street actor Bill Roache arrives at Preston Crown Court, where he denies two counts of raping a 15-year-old girl in east Lancashire in 1967, and four indecent assaults involving four girls aged between 11 or 12 and 16 in the Manchester area in 1965 and 1968. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday February 3, 2014. See PA story COURTS Roache. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Coronation Street actor Bill Roache arrives at Preston Crown Court with his daughter Verity

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

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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 yesterday: "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."

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.

OFFENCES

"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.

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 while the fourth is alleged to have happened in his Rolls-Royce.

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

Irish Independent

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