Roache 'assaulted girl in Rolls'

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Coronation Street actor William Roache denies the chages against him Coronation Street actor William Roache denies the chages against him

Coronation Street star William Roache indecently assaulted a teenage girl after offering her a lift home in his Rolls Royce, a court heard.

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.

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.

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

The victim, now aged 57, told police she was with a friend autograph hunting outside Granada Studios in Manchester when Roache offered the girls a lift home in his Silver Cloud Roller.

"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. He just said he needs to go that way because he was going to Prestwich Golf Club.

"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 and he started moving it."

She added that she moved her hand away when a double decker bus pulled alongside but he forced it back, getting her to perform a sex act.

Shortly after, Roache is alleged to have got the girls out of the car, she said.

"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'

"That was the last time I ever went to Granada studios."

The alleged incident is said to have happened at 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 aged 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 being shown the set of the Rovers Return.

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

"It was Len Fairclough that made the comment," she said.

"Because when he said it he looked directly at him and he looked at us and said 'You want to keep your eye on him, he will lead you astray' and he called him 'cockroach'.

"Len Fairclough said that he would lead us astray. He called him a cockroach with a capital C."

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 inside the studios, Roache, who has played Ken Barlow in the ITV soap for more than 50 years, 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, no reason in the world."

Later Miss Blackwell put it 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 that she sometimes got details about times and dates wrong, but maintained she was telling the truth.

"I'm here as a witness," she added.

"I'm really hardly surprised that these people are not coming forward. If I had known what I was going to go through I would not have come forward.

"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.

"I have done nothing apart from try to tell the truth. All right, I have got mixed up with a few dates, but the issue is what he did to me.

"I'm sorry but that's the way I feel - at the moment, as a victim, I'm so sorry I ever came forward."

The witness agreed that at first she told police the "cockroach" remark about William Roache had been made by the actor who plays the character Mike Baldwin, but said she later corrected herself when she realised it was Peter Adamson, who played Len Fairclough.

As the cross-examination closed, Miss Blackwell put it to the witness: "You have not been telling the truth at all."

"I have not come here to be called a liar and put myself through all these months of hell," the witness replied. "You can say what you want - I know it's true, he knows it's true.

"When I watched him on Coronation Street me and my sister were star struck.

"What we did not know, he had another name, that's Bill Roache, that was not a nice man. People (say), 'Oh yes, he's a lovely man on Coronation Street'.

"It's easy for you to stand there and judge, you were not in that room. I'm sorry, you was not in that room.

"He assaulted me, whether he likes it or not, and I have had to carry it around with me.

"Can you imagine what would have happened if I had gone as a child to the police?"

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow morning.

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