William Roache ‘branded a cockroach by co-star’

‘Coronation Street star William Roache indecently assaulted a teenage girl after offering her a lift home in his Rolls-Royce, a court has heard.
Coronation Street actor William Roache arriving at Preston Crown Court. Picture: PACoronation Street actor William Roache arriving at Preston Crown Court. Picture: PA
Coronation Street actor William Roache arriving at Preston Crown Court. Picture: PA

The victim was with a friend when the actor, who plays Ken Barlow, got the girl to perform a sex act on him, a jury at Preston Crown Court was told yesterday.

Barlow, 81, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, denies two counts of rape and five counts of indecent assault involving five complainants aged 16 and under on dates between 1965 and 1971.

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The jury heard evidence from the last of the five alleged victims yesterday as a video of her police interview was played to the court.

The victim, now aged 57, told police she was with a friend autograph-hunting outside Granada Studios in Manchester, where the soap was filmed, when Roache offered the girls a lift home in his car.

“We were both getting in the back and he said, ‘No you get in the front’, so I sat in the front and looked back at my friend,” she said. “She was all smiles and we set off. I didn’t look at him at all. I just looked straight ahead and the next thing, he got his hand over his thing, then he had his hand over mine.”

She said she moved her hand away when a doubledecker bus pulled alongside but he forced it back, making her perform a sex act. Shortly after, Roache is alleged to have got the girls out of the car. She said he told them: “I’m going to have to drop you off here, there’s half a crown to get the bus back.

“I said to my friend, ‘Did you see what happened there?’ I said, ‘I can’t believe what’s happened’.”

The alleged incident is said to have happened some time between June 1968 and September 1971. Earlier, the witness’s sister, who is two years older, claimed Roache indecently assaulted her when she was 14, after the young sisters were both invited inside the studios by the defendant.

She told the jury Roache groped her breasts and put his hand up her skirt in his dressing room after she was shown the set of the Rovers Return.

And she claimed that Peter Adamson, who played Len Fairclough in the soap, warned her about Roache and called him a “cockroach”.

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The court heard that the alleged victim and her sister would sit on the steps outside the studio in the summer holidays in the mid to late 1960s with other girls and boys who were autograph-hunting.

But on one occasion after being invited in to the studio, Roache took her to his dressing room and indecently assaulted her by putting his hands on her breasts and up her skirt.

She told police: “He was like an octopus – hands everywhere.”

Challenged about her account of what happened by the defendant’s lawyer, Louise Blackwell QC, the witness told the court: “It happened, no matter what you are saying or what your job is, it happened. I have no reason to lie.”

Later Ms Blackwell said to the witness: “Are you even trying to tell the truth here?”

“I’m telling the truth,” she replied. “Why the hell would I put myself through all of this?”

As the cross-examination continued, the witness agreed she sometimes got details about times and dates wrong.

She added: “I feel as if I am on trial here. I have done nothing wrong here. It’s Mr Barlow, Ken Barlow, that’s done it.”

The trial continues.