Tuesday 20 February 2018

'Youngsters have no attraction to me at all'

'Coronation Street' actor William Roache arrives at Preston Crown Court. PA
'Coronation Street' actor William Roache arrives at Preston Crown Court. PA

Kim Pilling and Pat Hurst

Coronation Street star William Roache told detectives it was "against my nature" to commit rape, a jury has heard .

Roache, 81, said he was "a very peaceful person" who would "never do anything like that".

The actor, who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, was arrested and cautioned at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, on the morning of May 1 last year, Preston Crown Court was told.

He was told he had been accused of raping a 15-year-old girl at his former home in Lancashire in 1967.

When the officer cautioned him, Roache replied: "I'm absolutely surprised and amazed."

The court heard the actor appeared visibly shocked and "consideration was given to his welfare" as he was allowed to sit down and have a drink of water.

He was then taken in an unmarked vehicle to a police station where the circumstances of the allegations were outlined. In the presence of his solicitor, he was told the reason for his arrest and his legal rights.

The interviewing detective said the complainant claimed she had been raped in two different properties by Roache.

"In response to that, anything to say?" asked Detective Constable Darren Irving.

"Well, I totally deny that," he replied. "I deny that ever took place."

Roache said he did not recognise the name or maiden name of his accuser.

He said he was not engaged in sexual activity with girls around the age of 15 while living in the area.

The detective asked: "During that period, Bill, did you have any kind of relationship with any young girls?"

"No," replied Roache.

"I don't want to insult your intelligence," continued the detective, "you are an intelligent man, Bill. What is your understanding of rape?"

He answered: "Having sexual intercourse with someone who is rejecting, who doesn't want to have it."

Roache added: "It's against my nature. I am a very peaceful person. I would never do anything like that."

Det Con Irving asked: "Any problems with your memory, Bill?"

"This is a long time ago ... but my memory is pretty good," he said.

"Definitely did not happen?" continued the officer.

"It did not happen because I would have remembered if it had," he replied.

Asked whether he could remember if any young girls would "come on to you", he said women would but young girls were just "excited" children. Roache said there may have been a "flirty comment" in getting an autograph "but not in a sustained way".

The detective asked: "Can you think of any reason why this girl would lie to the police about what had happened?"

Roache replied: "No. People nowadays ... it is happening quite a lot ... some people want a bit of sensation, a bit of publicity."

He said again he was a "peaceful person" and "gentle" and did not like "aggravation of any sort".

Roache was later charged with two counts of rape and the publicity that followed led to four women coming forward to say he indecently assaulted them.

He denies all the allegations involving the five complainants who were aged 16 and under on dates between 1965 and 1971.

The account of the rapes given by Roache's accuser were put to him in detail.

It is alleged that on the first occasion he showed the girl into a bedroom with a double bed, followed her in, spun her around and pushed her on to the bed.

"I would never do that to anybody, I would remember that quite clearly," Roache told the officer.

The alleged victim said she was "frozen" and in shock, that he "fumbled" around to put a condom on, pulled her underwear to one side and raped her.

"Did that happen, Bill?" the officer asked.

"No, that did not happen," he replied.

"Did you rape that girl on that occasion?"

"No, I did not. I have never raped anybody," Roache said. "This whole incident did not happen as far as I am concerned, I would've remembered it."

The officer added: "So you categorically deny it?"

Roache said: "Absolutely categorically deny knowing her or doing anything with her."

It was put to Roache that the woman described her attacker as "cold and calculating".

"Well, that's not like me," he said. "I'm not cold and calculating ever, so that has no bearing.

"This whole thing is just astounding me, absolutely astounding me, I can't understand why it's happened."

Details of the second alleged rape on the same victim at a different property some time later were then put to Roache during the interview.

Roache said "it strikes me a little strange" that a girl he is alleged to have raped before would go near him again.

"I'm a very gentle, peaceful person and I would never do anything that would offend anyone," he added.

The officer said the victim claimed he pinned her against a wall and raped her. Again she was in shock, she did not fight back or scream and there was no intimacy, talking or lead-up to the sudden assault.

Roache said: "No. This just did not happen."

He was asked if he could give "any reason" why she would make these claims.

Roache said: "The climate of what's happening at the moment, a lot of people are coming out accusing celebrities, for various reasons, and I don't know what her motivation is.

"I can only surmise there's some hope of selling articles to the newspaper, a moment of fame. I don't know what the motivation would be and I'm absolutely horrified at the whole thing.

"I was always polite and friendly with the viewers and people in the street. I have no idea why she would come up with this."

At the end of the first police interview, Roache added: "I'm denying it totally. I have no idea why these allegations are being made.

"I'm absolutely staggered, absolutely staggered, I don't really know what her motivation is."

Roache gave a handwritten prepared statement to police ahead of being interviewed again on June 6 over the indecent assault allegations.

He said he had not recognised any of the women after being given photographs of them around the time of the claims.

He said: "I firmly deny that any such indecent assaults took place at all.

"The incidents as described do not reflect in any way my behaviour at the time."

He added he was a "very sensitive and caring person" who "always respected the wishes of other people".

"I would not dream of forcing myself on any other person," he said.

Roache said women would indicate a desire to have a relationship with him and he said: "I do enjoy having sex with women."

But that was always with their full and unconditional consent, he stressed.

He said girls aged 11 to 16 "hold no interest of a sexual nature for me at all".

He said he had never given lifts in his car to strangers or young fans of the show.

During the interview he was taken through each of the indecent assault allegations against him.

The first girl said she thought she was 14 when Roache grabbed her by the arm and forced her to perfom a sex act on him in the gents toilets at Granada Studios in Manchester.

The complainant said she met the defendant in a dressing room after she and a friend had just competed in a children's talent show.

He was asked if he thought it possible for the girls to have walked around the studio.

Roache replied: "Unattended? Highly unlikely, I would have thought. People were not allowed to roam around."

He said he did not recall her being in his dressing room and had never taken a girl into the male toilets.

The actor added that he had no recollection of asking her to leave her name and address so he could write to her.

The jury has been shown a letter and signed photograph that were delivered to the complainant.

Roache explained to police: "I mean, I have written letters like that. That was quite a common thing for me to write."

The woman alleges that on another occasion later the same year she accepted a lift home by Roache from Granada studios.

Roache denied he gave lifts to fans.

"I have been pretty cautious and careful on who gets into my vehicle," he said.

He denied he had asked her in his car about when she would turn 16 or "if she had ever had it in the mouth".

Roache said her claims that he got her to perform a sex act on him on a second occasion were not true.

The next complainant said the actor groped her in the women's toilets at the studios when she was aged 16.

She said he followed her in, pushed her up against the wall and then sexually assaulted her.

He denied that anything happened between them.

The detective asked him why he thought she had come forward to the police now.

Roache replied: "I can think of all sorts of reasons why they have done.

"Only they know why they have done this."

Asked about the nature of relationships between men and women in the 1960s, he said: "It was a different time that people could be far more tactile, not in a sexual way."

He said that "generally" you could put your arm around someone but "people nowadays tend to take offence at that".

He was also questioned on whether he had abused his position for sexual satisfaction.

"I am very concerned about that sort of thing," he said. "A good name is important. No, I have never abused that position."

The final two allegations of indecent assault were put to Roache, made by two sisters, who were young autograph-hunters at the time.

The actor is said to have put his hands on the breasts of one girl and into her knickers at Granada Studios.

He denied any knowledge of such an incident and denied any sexual encounter, either consensual or non-consensual, with any young girl.

The younger sister, aged 12 at the time, claimed that Roache made her masturbate him after giving her and her friend a lift in his gold-coloured Rolls Royce.

Again Roache denied any knowledge of such an incident and said it did not happen.

The officer asked Roache why two people, the girl and the friend who was in the car with her, who have not seen each other for many years, were telling police the same thing about the incident.

"Is there any reason why you think this would be coming out now?" the officer asked.

"Only they know," Roache replied, "Only they know."

Roache was asked again why the complainants, who, apart from the sisters, do not know each other, would make such allegations, some giving similar stories of what happened.

The defendant replied: "Look, I can only conjecture, I can guess and make all sorts of comments, only they know. It didn't happen."

Roache added: "I had plenty of very attractive, wonderful partners. I love women and I love making love to women but it has to be with their full co-operation and full enjoyment.

"Youngsters have no attraction to me at all.

"These allegations are not nice, not pleasant and I don't know why they have come forward."

The trial was adjourned until this afternoon.

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News