Coronation Street actor Bill Roache makes first court appearance on rape charges

 

Veteran Coronation Street actor Bill Roache has made his first appearance in court accused of raping a 15-year-old girl.

Appearing at Preston Magistrates' Court, the 81-year-old confirmed his full name, address and date of birth.

He was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, on May 1 and was later charged with two counts of rape against his alleged victim in 1967.

Roache, who has played Ken Barlow in the ITV soap for more than 50 years, was bailed to appear for a preliminary hearing at Preston Crown Court on 10 June.

In a statement issued earlier this month, Roache said: "I strenuously deny the allegations and will now focus my full attention on fighting to preserve my innocence in the challenging times ahead."

Roache, wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and white-and-blue-striped tie, arrived at the court just before 9.10am and made no comment to camera crews and reporters.

He entered Court 3 at 10am and then appeared relaxed as he waited patiently for more than five minutes for District Judge Jane Goodwin to come in.

An usher led him into a witness box and the clerk asked for his full name.

He replied: “William Patrick Roache.”

He then confirmed his home address in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and his date of birth, before he was invited to sit down.

Joanna White, prosecuting, did not outline the details of the charges, other to explain that Roache faced two historic counts of rape.

She added: “These matters can only be dealt with by the Crown Court.”

The case will next be heard at Preston Crown Court by the Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC.

There was no indication of plea from the actor.

Brian Russell, representing Roache, said: “Nothing to add at this stage.”

He was granted bail on condition of residence at his home or a family member's address in London, to have no unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 and not to directly or indirectly approach two named persons.

District Judge Goodwin told Roache: “I must warn you if you breach any of the bail conditions you will be arrested.”

Roache said: “I do understand.”

Following the brief hearing, Roache was besieged by camera crews and reporters but again made no comment as he was led into a waiting car.

He has played Ken Barlow in the ITV1 soap since its launch.

In a statement issued earlier this month, Roache said he was “astounded and deeply horrified by the extraordinary events” of his arrest and subsequent charging.

He added: “I strenuously deny the allegations and will now focus my full attention on fighting to preserve my innocence in the challenging times ahead.

“I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all those people who have offered me their support and good wishes at this difficult time.”

Roache - the world's longest-serving soap actor - will not appear in the programme until legal proceedings are concluded, ITV said.

He collected an award from Guinness World Records in 2010 for his long service in Coronation Street, having joined in 1960 and appeared regularly ever since.

PA

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