`Red Dwarf' star admits taking cocaine Sobbing star of `Red Dwarf' says: I used coke

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Craig Charles sobbed in Southwark Crown Court witness box yesterday as he admitted using cocaine but pleaded: "I am not a rapist."

The star of the television sci-fi series Red Dwarf and Jack Peploe, 36, have denied rape and four charges of indecent assault. The victim at the centre of the allegations once had a relationship with Mr Charles, 30.

At the beginning of the trial's second week, Mr Charles's rise to television stardom was charted by his counsel, Stephen Solley QC. As Mr Charles started to answer questions about 8 July last year when he was arrested and charged, he sobbed and whimpered as he recalled the events.

He said he had been planning a birthday party for himself and his father, 70, when police arrived at his Kennington home in south London. "An hour and a half later and I'd have been off to Liverpool. They'd have had to arrest me in front of my dad."

Mr Charles said that after a birthday meal for his fiance at a restaurant, accompanied by Mr Peploe and his wife, he returned home and had been angered to find a writer friend, Russell, playing pool with two other men. There had also been an argument with his fiance, referred to only as Linda.

Mr Charles said he had met Linda in January last year. She had been a stripper at a Kennington pub and, after a holiday in Greece in June, they had decided to marry.

It "had gone sixish" in the morning when Mr Charles said he and Mr Peploe had gone out for breakfast. With a lawyer's meeting planned for 10.30am, Mr Charles said he had decided to try to stay up. He told the jury Mr Peploe was driving in an area near his home when he told him "I know where we'll find a bit of breakfast". He said he told Mr Peploe a former girlfriendlived near by, adding: "I wish I hadn't now."

Mr Charles said he had had a two-week, live-in relationship with a woman in 1988 followed by occasional meetings over the next three months. They had met four times between 1989 and 1993. Shortly before the alleged incident, the woman had been knocking at the door of his new home and "playing games" on his intercom.

On being invited into her flat, the woman had initially taunted him about the "white woman" he was to marry, Mr Charles said. Admitting taking two lines of coke, which he said the woman had provided, Mr Charles said that she began to change in and out of provocative outfits "you wouldn't go shopping in".

He said she "was trying to get us to make love to her" and had put her hand inside the hole of a pair of white shorts and had proceeded to rip off her knickers in front of the two men.

Claiming he was trying to "calm her down", he said the woman had then committed a series of indecent acts in front of them with a ball-point pen, an olive oil bottle and an orange.

Mr Charles said "at that point, I said to Jack, `time to go'". He also said the woman had `tried to go for my trousers".

Telling the jury that his "life was wrecked" and that he had spent four months in jail since his arrest, Mr Charles - answering questions from the prosecution counsel, Jeremy Carter-Manning QC - repeatedly denied going to the house "not for breakfast but for sex".

At one point, he picked up the witness box Bible, waved it, and insisted he was telling the truth. Mr Carter-Manning asked him to "put the prop down". Mr Charles replied: "This is the Bible, why is it a prop - are you accusing me of acting?"

The case continues today.