Roache 'misheard jury verdict'

Witney Gazette: Bill Roache speaks to the media outside Preston Crown Court, after the end of the trial when he misheard the verdict of the jury Bill Roache speaks to the media outside Preston Crown Court, after the end of the trial when he misheard the verdict of the jury

Coronation Street actor Bill Roache said he thought he was going to prison after mishearing the jury at the end of his rape trial last week, the Mail on Sunday reported.

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 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.

The newspaper reported he said: "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."

The Mail on Sunday reported that he made the comments at a meeting of the spiritualist group Circle of Love at their base in Ashton-under-Lyne near Manchester.

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

Louise Blackwell QC from his defence team attempted an 11th-hour, highly unusual legal bid to have the trial halted claiming the judge had been biased in his summing up of the case.

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

"It's not about truth, or about justice, it's a game."

The Coronation Street veteran was alleged by the Crown to have used his fame and popularity to exploit "starstruck" girls, aged 16 and under, between the mid-60s and early-70s.

He said he expects to return to the soap in August and is due to meet Granada bosses next week.

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