Radio Sandwell News

Coronation Street star William Roache innocent

2014-02-06 13:44:21

William Roache

Coronation Street actor William Roache has been cleared of rape and indecent assault charges by a jury.

Mr Roache, 81, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, was found not guilty of two rapes and four indecent assaults after a trial at Preston Crown Court.

Five women had claimed he assaulted them when they were aged 16 or under between 1965 and 1971.

Outside court, he said: "In these situations there are no winners... we should be much kinder to ourselves."

He added: "If you'll excuse me, I need to get back to work."

Evidence 'lacked credibility'

His family, who had accompanied him to court throughout the trial, cried with relief as the verdicts were read out.


The jury dismissed claims that William Roache assaulted
girls at Granada Studios and in his Rolls Royce, as
Danny Savage reports

 

Bill Roache showed no emotion as he was cleared of rape
and indecent assault, but his family did.

 

Audible sighs of relief could be clearly heard from his
sons, as six times the jury foreman clearly said "not
guilty".

 

The sighs were followed by sobs. Tears of relief as their
father was cleared. Moments later the 81-year-old actor
was told by the judge he was free to leave the dock.

 

Bill Roache then walked into the arms of his family, who
have been here every day presenting a united front.

 

A pensioner brought to the brink of disgrace is a free man.
Free to resume his life and role in Coronation Street.

Mr Roache was previously cleared of a fifth indecent assault charge after the judge said there was a lack of evidence.

During the three-week trial, Mr Roache denied knowing any of his accusers and said he had never had a sexual interest in under-age girls.

The women, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had claimed he indecently assaulted them in the toilets and dressing rooms at Granada Studios in Manchester, as well as in his car.

One woman alleged he raped her twice at his homes in Haslingden, Lancashire, on separate occasions.

The prosecution had accused Mr Roache of using his fame and popularity to exploit the girls and said that, if the actor was telling the truth, he was the victim of a "huge, distorted and perverse witch-hunt".

But Louise Blackwell QC, defending, said the women's evidence "lacked sense and credibility".

In court, the woman making the rape claims changed her mind about how old she was at the time.

Another woman initially told police she was warned about Mr Roache by actor Johnny Briggs, who played Mike Baldwin, but when it was discovered he was not in the show at the time she said the warning had come from a different actor.

'Decent and kind'

A fifth indecent assault charge was dropped due to insufficient evidence after the woman, who accused him of abusing her in his car, told the court she had "no actual memory" of the episode.

The jury, of eight women and four men, heard Mr Roache had been "astounded" and "horrified" when he was first arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, on 1 May last year.

Several Coronation Street cast members were called as character witnesses during the three-week trial.

Anne Kirkbride, who plays Deirdre Barlow, described him as "lovely", Chris Gascoyne - who plays his son - said he was "decent and kind", while Helen Worth, who plays neighbour Gail McIntyre, said he was "caring".

Speaking after the verdicts, colleague Michael Le Vell, who was recently cleared of sex abuse charges, said: "I'm delighted."

Former cast colleague Ken Farrington, who played Billy Walker in the 1960s and 70s, said Mr Roache "treated women with respect".

He added: "It's a mystery where this has come from."

ITV said it would be discussing the actor's future in Coronation Street shortly.

In a statement, the broadcaster said: "We look forward to talking to Bill soon about his return to work."

Source: bbc.co.uk

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