Justin Lee Collins's relationship with ex-girlfriend brought out 'the demon' in him, court hears


Television presenter Justin Lee Collins's relationship with an ex-girlfriend accusing him of harassment brought out “the demon” in him, a court heard today.

Collins, 38, had a seven-month relationship with video games public relations worker Anna Larke last year.

A jury at St Albans Crown Court, in Hertfordshire, has heard a secret recording Ms Larke, 38, made of the entertainer verbally abusing her during a row last July.

On the recording the entertainer says to her "You bring the f****** demon out in me" as he insults her with a tirade of grossly offensive terms.

The "demon" comment was previously inaudible to the court but a transcript of it was used by prosecuting barrister Peter Shaw during Collins's cross-examination.

Collins, who came to fame with Channel 4's The Friday Night Project, said the "rant" was completely out of character and it sounded "like someone else".

Mr Shaw said: "You are telling her there is something about this relationship, something about her that brings the demon out in you."

The father of two said: "That's not true."

In the recording Collins calls Ms Larke a "f****** slag", a "dirty vile whore," and a "f****** sex addict".

Collins was in "meltdown", he told the jury of nine women and three men after his relationship with the recovering alcoholic hit rock bottom.

Collins, of Kew, south west London, denies harassment.

Collins met Ms Larke in 2006 at the Golden Joysticks Awards which he hosted in London.

The following year they embarked on an affair behind his wife Karen's back, which lasted until 2008.

The pair split up but resumed their relationship after the star's marriage broke down in late 2010. Collins and his wife had been married for nine years but together for 15 in total.

Ms Larke moved in with Collins in January last year after he left the marital home in Bristol, but problems quickly developed.

The Crown allege that the bearded, long-haired ex-comic was a controlling, sexually jealous boyfriend who made Ms Larke write down every sexual encounter she ever had.

Collins says the sex list, on which he features at number 37, was Ms Larke's idea to "unburden" herself.

He rejected claims he had problems with his temper and did not physically or emotionally abuse Ms Larke, who used to suffer from claustrophobia, agoraphobia, anxiety and depression.

Collins said: "I don't need anger management and to this day I don't have a problem with my anger."

Referring to the secret recording, he said he was not thinking clearly and was irrational.

Describing parts of it as "bizarre and nonsensical", he said: "They are just about the worst things a man can say to a woman."

He said the recording also showed him as a "man who has done everything he can to support and help financially and emotionally but can't do enough".

Collins denies assaulting the complainant, who admitted bombarding him with text messages.

Collins accepts he twice slapped Ms Larke but only with a gentle tap to calm her during relapses into alcoholism.

He added to this day he "still cares for her well-being".

The couple split up permanently the day after the recorded row.

Collins said he was still willing to financially support Ms Larke, whom he called a compulsive liar, but was harassed by her texting him.

On July 21, three weeks after she walked out of their home, she sent him 103 text messages.

The day after that she sent him a huge text message, which he described as a statement setting out a series of allegations against him.

"She is a fantasist," he said.

Collins has told the court that Ms Larke also rang him twice after splitting up to blackmail him for £20,000. But he did not know the dates, he said.

The performer also told the court today of his sorrow at leaving his wife and children.

He said Ms Larke had a big issue with the fact he was married.

"I needed her to understand I walked out on a young family with no good reason," he said.

"That's a burden I will always carry, that I left two young kids and a good woman."

Collins went into counselling because of the issue, he said.

The jury wrote down more than a dozen questions for the defendant this afternoon.

They spotted that in response to Ms Larke's 103 text messages, Collins had replied with 114, and signed off: "Speak tomorrow, gorgeous."

Asked to explain, he said ignoring her texts did not work, and: "I still had feelings for her, I still loved her."

The court has heard Collins refer to "blacks" and "chinks" and Ms Larke alleged he had "a problem with people of colour".

He denied that and today said: "Anna would use racist terminology if she could."

Collins's former wife Karen told the trial they are still friends and he was a "lovely, genuine person" who was never violent to her.

Speaking quietly and with Collins looking on from the dock, she said he was a "lovely dad" to their sons Archie, seven, and Harvey, four.

Asked to describe him, she said: "Gentle, not aggressive, kind and generous."

She added that he never tried to control her.

"I was always free to go out with friends if I wanted to."

Collins's friend Boyd Hilton, a journalist on Heat magazine, described him as "incredibly friendly, funny and down to earth".

Mr Hilton, who ghost-wrote Collins's autobiography and has been on several holidays with him, said: "He is obviously quite famous but is always very normal.

"He is really quite shy. He doesn't really like the showbusiness world and he doesn't hang out in that world."

Mr Hilton joined the defendant and Ms Larke on holiday in New York in March last year when she alleges Collins bruised her face.

He said he had seen no bruises and said Collins was "always very supportive of her".

The performer's agent, Peter Bennett-Jones, who owns his own management company, described his client as "an extraordinarily polite individual professionally".

Mr Bennett-Jones, who is chairman of Comic Relief, a governor of Rugby School and a trustee of the National Theatre, added that Collins had a "polite, respectful nature with everybody he has worked with".

"The behaviour I have read about and has been reported is inconsistent," he said, but acknowledged that he had not heard the recording of Collins's row with Ms Larke.

The trial will resume at 10am tomorrow when counsel will make closing speeches and Judge John Plumstead will sum up.