William Roache trial: Coronation Street actor was 'sticking to script' when giving evidence, court hears

Prosecution says soap star was lying when he denied sexually abusing five girls

Coronation Street star William Roache was “sticking to his script” when lying that he did not sexually abuse five young girls, a jury heard today.

Roache, 81, who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, is accused of using his fame and popularity to exploit “starstruck” youngsters nearly 50 years ago.

His trial has heard that the complainants, who did not know each other, apart from two sisters, claimed they had been assaulted while at Granada Studios in Manchester, in his car or at properties he owned.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC began her closing speech at Preston Crown Court to the jury of eight women and four women with the observation: “Well, members of the jury, someone is lying.

"Five complainants have made sexual allegations against William Roache.

“He is emphatic that it just did not happen.

"He either did it or he did not.

“He is lying or literally all of them are.”

If he was telling the truth, he was the victim of a “huge, distorted and perverse witch-hunt” at the hands of five women who had come from all parts of the country to deliver their evidence in Preston.

She continued: “One important question that you are going to frankly have to ask yourselves is who has the most to gain in lying?

"Is it someone like (an alleged victim) or is it the enduringly popular Mr Roache?

“Who, of all the witnesses, is most used to rehearsing what he has to say and sticking to his script?

”Is it someone like (another alleged victim) or is it the actor William Roache, a man who has spent his entire life learning lines and delivering them for public consumption?"

Miss Whyte said the jury was here to "not set stall by fame" but "to set stall by fact“.

She said she wanted to "dispel a few myths".

One was how the jurors could be sure of Roache's guilt if it was "his word against hers".

If, after assessing all the evidence, they believed a complainant, then they were entitled to convict.

Secondly, she said this case was not about disc jockeys, entertainers, MPs, or anyone else, or trials involving acquittals or convictions in other celebrity court cases.

"It has nothing to do with this trial," she said.

"This trial is about William Roache and how he is alleged to have behaved in a short period in the 1960s and possibly into the 1970s."

Thirdly, she told the jury that the words paedophilia or paedophile were not going to assist.

"We have not used it," she said.

"Let's stick with the charges. Did he commit an indecent assault? Did he commit rape?"

Referring to character evidence given by Coronation Street co-stars who knew Roache from the 1970s onwards, she told the jury they had heard "what a lovely chap he is".

But they had to "judge a man from a different time".

Roache was hardly likely to sexually assault a teenager in front of colleagues, she added.

Miss Whyte said: "We say, judge William Roache like anyone else. That is to say, fairly. You must leave emotion absolutely out of this.

“He does not deserve the benefit of the doubt because of who he is or how old he is. He is entitled to the benefit of the doubt if the prosecution have not convinced you of his guilt.”

Roache, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, denies two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault involving the complainants aged 16 and under between the mid-1960s and early 1970s.

The trial continues.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower