Jury out in soap William Roache’s sex assault case

William Roache faces six charges. Picture: Reuters
William Roache faces six charges. Picture: Reuters
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The jury in the rape and indecent assault trial of Coronation Street star William Roache has retired to consider its verdicts.

Roache, 81, who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, is accused of using his fame and popularity to exploit five youngsters between the mid-60s and early 70s.

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 said he did not even know any of his accusers and had never had a sexual interest in under-age girls.

The prosecution says the actor was “sticking to his script” in lying and if he was telling the truth, he was the victim of a “huge, distorted and perverse witch-hunt”.

Anne Whyte QC depicted Roache as a young man with “looks, fame and appetite” at the relevant time, which gave him the “motivation and the opportunity to behave improperly’’.

She said his fame “put him out of reach” with his belief that none of the women would be brave enough to report him.

“Decades of silence” followed, but times had changed now, she told the jury of eight women and four men.

Apart from two of the complainants who were sisters, there was no evidence to suggest any of the women who had come forward had known each other.

Louise Blackwell QC, defending, said the case against her client was “nonsense”, with the trial haunted by the “spectre” of Jimmy Savile.

The jury was sent home and will resume its deliberations today.