Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

'Octopus Roache's hands everywhere'

Coronation Street star William Roache was like "an octopus" with "hands everywhere", an alleged sex assault victim told detectives.

She said the actor - whom she dubbed The Roache - groped her in a room at Granada Studios in Manchester after being led past the Rovers Return pub on the set.

In a video recording of her police interview played to jurors at Preston Crown Court, she said she thought she was about 14 when Roache arranged studio passes for her and her younger sister.

She said: "He came over to me and stood really close to me and put both hands on my breasts.

"I could see then that he was sort of hard.

"He took his right arm off and he had gone up my skirt and into my knickers.

"I started worrying. I knew I couldn't run.

"I told him I was on a period, which I wasn't.

"He asked me whether I was sure and I said 'Yeah'.

"He asked me not to say anything."

The woman added that Roache - who has played Ken Barlow since the launch of the ITV soap - also told her: "Perhaps next time."

She told the interviewing woman officer: "He was like an octopus. Hands everywhere."

Roache, 81, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, denies two counts of rapes and five counts of indecent assault involving five complainants aged 16 and under on dates between 1965 and 1971.

The woman said she and her sister would sit on the steps outside the studio in the summer holidays along with other girls and boys.

She said she thought they were autograph-hunting.

The woman said she recalled a comment made to her by the actor who played Mike Baldwin in the soap, the court heard.

She said: "I remember him saying - because Ken Barlow was talking to me and my sister - he said 'You want to watch that one'."

"Meaning who?" asked the officer.

"Ken Barlow," she replied.

She said she went inside the studio and down some stairs with Roache and turned one way, while her sister went the other way with actor Neville Buswell, who played Ray Langton.

She said she thought Roache was in his stage clothing at the time and was wearing make-up.

His appearance was "like a ghost" and he wore"very white make-up and lipstick" which was "splattered on".

He wore tight beige slacks and a pink shirt and she wore a plain school skirt, white socks and a blouse or T-shirt.

She said Roache must have known it was the school holidays but they did not discuss her age.

When the officer asked her who she was talking about, she said: "We called him The Roache."

She added: "I was terrified. I didn't know what to do. I didn't expect anything like that to happen.

"I was absolutely mortified. I just wanted to get out of the room but I was frightened of running in case he dragged me back, so I said I was on a period.

"I think he had plans when he said 'We will take you around and get you passes'."

She said she did not tell her sister - who also claims she was abused by Roache on a separate occasion - about the alleged incident until a few weeks later.

She said she "flew" from the studio and never returned.

In the wake of the publicity surrounding Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall, she remembered saying to her sister: "I wonder if Ken Barlow is crapping himself."

But she said she did not want to come forward because she did not think she would be believed.

She then remembered her sister being angered at comments attributed to Roache in an interview.

"I think it came out when The Roache made this comment about us being paid back for something you did in a previous life. Making out we were something or other."

She said when it was announced that Roache had been arrested on suspicion of rape, her sister rang her and said: "Have you heard the good news? Roache has been done for rape, and I said 'You are joking?'.

"She said are you going to the police and I said 'No'. I thought 'Who is going to believe me?'"

The officer asked: "What made you come forward?"

She replied: "It was (my sister). She said we have got to nail him, we can't let him get away with it.

"I thought if she is going to come forward then I will."

She said she "plucked up courage" but felt "embarassed" and "absolutely stupid".

"We thought we were the only ones until this girl came forward," she said.

Roache was charged last May with two counts of rape on one alleged victim, with the publicity that following leading to the four other complainants coming forward.

The witness said she felt the incident had been her fault "for being there in the first place".

The officer asked her: "And now?"

"I don't know," she said. "Perhaps if we had not been there.

"He may have been planning all of this.

"He was making us out to be someone special. He has picked us out to go into the studios."

In the interview she added that Roache had previously given the sisters a lift home in his Rolls-Royce but she later became upset when giving evidence - via video-link - and said she was mistaken and that it was Buswell.

The woman said after the alleged assault she next saw Roache on a golf course with other celebrities more than 10 years later.

"I stepped back," she said. "I thought 'I wonder does he remember me?'"

At the end of the police interview she told the officer: "I think we should get him on The Jeremy Kyle Show... the lie detector."

The trial continues on Monday morning when the witness will be cross-examined.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph