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Judge tells jurors to leave emotions aside in deliberating Roache case

Jurors in the trial of Coronation Street star William Roache were told yesterday to leave emotions aside in dealing with a "head-on conflict of evidence".

Mr Roache, 81, who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, is accused of using his fame and popularity to exploit "starstruck" youngsters in the late 60s and early 70s.

His trial at Preston Crown Court has heard from five women who say he sexually assaulted them when they were 16 or under, at Granada Studios in Manchester, in his car, or at his properties between 1965 and 1972.

In denying all the offences, Mr Roache says he did not know any of his accusers and had never had a sexual interest in under-age girls.

Summing up the case, Mr Justice Holroyde told the jury: "There is a head-on conflict of evidence. The principal question you will have to ask yourself on each of the charges will be a stark one. Are you sure that Mr Roache committed the sexual act which the complainant says he did?

"Emotions must play no part in your decisions. It would only distract from your solemn duty in accordance with the oath or affirmation you made at the start of the trial to return true verdicts according to the evidence.

"You must put to one side any feelings of sympathy or anger you may have, in one direction or another.

"What is needed is a cool-headed appraisal of the evidence you have heard."

Mr Roache, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, is accused of two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault involving the complainants.

Mr Roache is said to have raped one woman at his then bungalow in Lancashire and to have raped her again in an adjoining cottage he owned.

Three of the indecent assaults were said to have taken place inside Granada Studios - in the gents toilets, ladies toilets and a dressing room - while the fourth is alleged to have happened in his Rolls-Royce.

Mr Justice Holroyde will finish summing up today and then send out the jury to start its deliberations.

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