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'Dirty old man' Roache sent a letter to girl after toilet assault, court told

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ON TRIAL: Roache (centre) arriving at court with son Linus and daughter Verity. PA

ON TRIAL: Roache (centre) arriving at court with son Linus and daughter Verity. PA

ON TRIAL: Roache (centre) arriving at court with son Linus and daughter Verity. PA

CORONATION Street star William Roache was branded a "dirty old man" by one of his alleged victims, a court has heard.

The woman, now a pensioner, said she was watching the ITV soap with her husband, who remarked Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in the show, was "OK".

"I said he wasn't," the witness said, "I said he's a dirty old man."

The witness was the second alleged victim to give evidence against the TV veteran (81), on day two of his trial at Preston Crown Court.

And she told the jury that when disbelieving friends mentioned sex allegations circulating about Rolf Harris she told them: "You better believe it, William Roache would do the self same thing."

Roache is accused of using his stardom to prey on young girls. He denies five historic counts of indecent assault and two historic counts of rape against five girls aged 16 and under. The offences are said to have occurred between 1965 and 1971.

The witness told the jury she was aged 16 when she said she was groped by Roache in the ladies' toilets at Granada Studios in November 1965.

"He more or less pinned me against the back of the wall," she said "He put his hand underneath my jumper and squeezed my boob. It was very quick."

Asked about her reaction, she said: "To tell you the truth I was really cross because he was touching my new bra."

She confided in her husband about 20 years ago, jurors heard.

"I told him because we were watching Coronation Street," she said. "My children know as well."

 

COMPLAINT

Miss Anne Whyte QC, prosecuting, asked if she could remember how the conversation came about.

She replied: "Not really, I just know that in the context of the situation we were watching it and I told him that he (Roache) was 'a dirty old man'."

The witness said she had told a number of people about the allegation last year.

She made her complaint to the police in May last year, after she saw a television report on the rape allegations that the defendant faced.

"I thought to myself how brave she was to do it," she said.

"I thought that if I told my experience it might lend some credence towards her allegations. I felt if he could do that to me, he could that to her."

Earlier the court heard from Roache's first alleged victim, who said Roache wrote a letter to the then 14-year-old girl weeks after he indecently assaulted her and asked her to reply "when you start school again".

She said Roache forced her to perform a sex act on him in the gents' toilets at Granada Studios in Manchester in the summer of 1965.

She had visited the studio with a friend to take part in a children's talent show when Roache pulled her into the toilets.

Weeks later she said she received a letter and signed photograph from the actor.

She said that after receiving the letter she returned to the studios later in the year, telling the court that afterwards Roache told her to wait outside and he would pick her up in his car. He later parked near a railway embankment in Stockport and she remembered Roache asking about her age and when she would turn 16, she said.

She added that he also asked her if she had "ever had it in the mouth".

"I had no concept of oral sex at all," she told the jury.

She said she thought that she had also been indecently assaulted in his car but she had "no actual memory" of the episode.

Questioned by Louise Blackwell QC, defending Roache, the witness said she could not remember many details about how she allegedly got to be alone in the gents' toilets with Roache or any detail of a conversation they may have had.

 

ASSAULT

"I think it's because it's 50 years ago and a lot of things are unclear about that day, but some things are clear," she told the jury. Asked about the second alleged indecent assault, the witness said she could not remember any additional details about Roache's car or the journey in it that day.

Miss Blackwell said: "Would you agree, you have some very alarming lapses in your memory about these events?"

"No, I don't agree," the witness replied. The trial was adjourned until this morning.

hnews@herald.ie


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