Jury sent home in Collins trial

 

A jury deliberating its verdict in the trial of television presenter Justin Lee Collins, who is accused of harassing his ex-girlfriend, has so far been unable to reach a decision and will return to court after the weekend.

The panel of nine women and three men were asked to come into St Albans Crown Court today, an unusual move because courts do not usually sit on Saturdays or Sundays, so that Judge John Plumstead could finish his summing up in Collins's case.

It is believed there may be problems with juror availability next week and Judge Plumstead was keen to retire jurors as soon as possible.

Long-haired Collins, who appeared in court dressed in a checked shirt, pair of jeans and a dark blazer, denies harassing his former partner Anna Larke.

During his 10-day trial the court heard details of the couple's tempestuous relationship in which they frequently fell out and argued.

Video games public relations worker Ms Larke, 38, claimed Collins subjected her to various levels of emotional and domestic abuse.

She alleged the ex-comic, also 38, made her write down in a Pukka pad all her previous sexual encounters regardless of how graphic.

The court heard he did not want to write the details down but Ms Larke dictated them to him and he believed it may have been a form of catharsis for her.

Collins, of Kew, south-west London, who made a name for himself with Channel 4's The Friday Night Project, denied the charge of harassment and said recovering alcoholic Ms Larke, who moved in with him in January 2011, was obsessive, jealous and possessive and would send him a "barrage" of text messages wanting to know where he was and who he was with.

The pair met at a corporate event in 2006 and began an affair in 2007 to 2008 before splitting up.

The relationship resumed at the end of 2010 after the defendant's marriage to his wife Karen, the mother of his sons Archie, seven, and Harvey, four, broke down.

Collins and Ms Larke lived together from January to July last year in a deeply troubled relationship as she tried to overcome alcoholism, the court has heard.

Collins is accused of making her come off social networking websites, sleep facing him and throw away DVDs because they featured actors she found attractive.

He denied all those claims and also denied making death threats against her.

Collins said the seven-month relationship with Ms Larke was "absolute hell".

"I thought she loved me and was crazy about me," he said.

"But it turned out only the second part was true."

He denied attacking her in any way, saying he had never hit anyone in his life.

Collins told the court he had only ever slapped Ms Larke to calm her down when she was self-harming, which he claimed she did, once gouging her wrists and threatening to commit suicide.

Ms Larke has claimed Collins attacked her in their Miami hotel room in March 2011.

Giving evidence to the court Ms Larke said she had not shown her doctor her bruises because she did not want to get Collins into trouble.

"I didn't want to do it to Justin. He was the love of my life," she said.

Speaking from behind a screen at the court, the recovering alcoholic described being terrified about Collins returning from a trip to Las Vegas because she had failed to attend one of two AA meetings which she had told him she would attend.

"I remember his ringing me and shouting abuse down the phone to me. I was petrified about him coming back. Absolutely petrified," she told the court.

The jury will return to St Albans Crown Court at 10am on Monday to continue its deliberations.

PA

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