CORONATION Street actor Bill Roache has said he thought he was going to prison after mishearing the jury at the end of his rape trial.

The 81-year-old said it was not until the judge ordered for him to be released from the dock that he realised he had been acquitted.

Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, was found not guilty last week by a jury of two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault following a four-week trial at Preston Crown Court on Thursday.

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He was quoted as saying: "I didn't hear the verdict properly, I didn't hear a couple of 'nots'. I thought I had gone on two [charges] - I just heard guilty, guilty. I really thought they had got me."

He was said to have made the comments at a meeting of the spiritualist group Circle of Love at its base in Ashton-under-Lyne near Manchester.

He also strongly criticised Mr Justice Holroyde for siding with the prosecution case during the trial.

"In my view the judge wasn't impartial," the actor said. "The judge was biased, he mauled me. I thought that was it."

Roache was alleged by the Crown to have used his fame and popularity to exploit "star struck" girls between the mid-60s and early-70s.