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'Octopus Bill Roache's hands were everywhere'

Coronation Street star William Roache was like "an octopus" with "hands everywhere", an alleged sex assault victim told detectives.

She said the actor, who she dubbed "The Roache", groped her in a room at Granada Studios in Manchester.

In a video recording of her police interview played to jurors at Preston Crown Court, she said she thought she was about 14 when Roache arranged studio passes for her and her younger sister.

She said: "He came over to me and stood really close to me and put both hands on my breasts. I could see that he was sort of hard.

"He took his right arm off and he had gone up my skirt and into my knickers. I started worrying. I knew I couldn't run.

"I told him I was on a period, which I wasn't. He asked me whether I was sure and I said, 'Yeah'."

"He asked me not to say anything."

She told the interviewing officer: "He was like an octopus. Hands everywhere."

Roache (81), of Wilmslow, Cheshire, who plays Ken Barlow in the soap, denies two counts of rape and five counts of indecent assault involving five complainants aged 16 and under on dates between 1965 and 1971.

The woman said she and her sister would sit on the steps outside the studio in the summer holidays along with other girls and boys.

She said she recalled a comment made to her by the actor who played Mike Baldwin in the soap, the court heard.

She said: "I remember him saying, because Ken Barlow was talking to me and my sister, he said, 'You want to watch that one'."

"Meaning who?" asked the officer. "Ken Barlow," she replied.

She said she went inside the studio and down some stairs with Roache and turned one way, while her sister went the other way with actor Neville Buswell, who played Ray Langton.

GHOST

She said she thought Roache was in his stage clothing at the time and was wearing make-up. His appearance was "like a ghost" and he wore "very white make-up and lipstick" which was "splattered on".

She wore a plain school skirt, white socks and a blouse or T-shirt. She said Roache must have known it was the school holidays, but they did not discuss her age.

When the officer asked her who she was talking about, she said: "We called him The Roache. I was terrified. I didn't know what to do. I didn't expect anything like that to happen. I was mortified."

She said she did not tell her sister, who also claims she was abused by Roache, about the alleged incident until a few weeks later. She said she "flew" from the studio and never returned.

In the wake of the publicity surrounding Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall, she remembered saying to her sister: "I wonder if Ken Barlow is crapping himself."

She said that when it was announced Roache had been arrested on suspicion of rape, her sister rang her and said: "Have you heard the good news? Roache has been done for rape."

The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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