Jurors in the trial of Coronation Street actor William Roache were told yesterday to leave emotions aside in dealing with a “head-on conflict of evidence”.
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 Sixties and early Seventies.
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.
In denying all the offences, Roache says he did not even know any of his accusers and had never had a sexual interest in underage girls.
Summing up the case, Mr Justice Holroyde told the jury of eight women and four men: “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.”
Roache, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, is accused of two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault.