Coronation Street star William Roache told police he loved sex and had "plenty" of women - but was never attracted to youngsters and it was "against my nature" to rape. And the actor who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, said he was "absolutely staggered" and "horrified" by the claims he had sexually assaulted young girls in the 60s, the jury at Preston Crown court heard.
Roache, 81, had to sit down and compose himself after police came to arrest him early one morning last May at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, the jury heard. He told detectives: "I had plenty of very attractive, wonderful partners. I love women and I love making love to women but it has to be with their full co-operation and full enjoyment. Youngsters have no attraction to me at all. These allegations are not nice, not pleasant and I don't know why they have come forward."
His trial, now in its second week, heard about two police interviews after his arrest when he was quizzed by detectives at Leyland Police Station in Lancashire. He denied all the allegations throughout his two interviews in May and June last year, repeatedly saying: "It didn't happen."
Roache said women would indicate a desire to have a relationship with him and he said: "I do enjoy having sex with women." But that was always with their full and unconditional consent, he stressed. He said girls aged 11 to 16 "hold no interest of a sexual nature for me at all".
He was asked if he could give "any reason" why one specific victim would make her claims against him. Roache replied: "The climate of what's happening at the moment, a lot of people are coming out accusing celebrities, for various reasons, and I don't know what her motivation is.
"I can only surmise there's some hope of selling articles to the newspaper, a moment of fame. I don't know what the motivation would be and I'm absolutely horrified at the whole thing. I was always polite and friendly with the viewers and people in the street. I have no idea why she would come up with this. I'm absolutely staggered, absolutely staggered, I don't really know what her motivation is."
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Roache denies two counts of rape and five counts of indecent assault involving the five complainants who were aged 16 and under on dates between 1965 and 1971. He was first arrested on the morning of May 1 last year, and held on suspicion of raping a 15-year-old girl at his former home in Lancashire in 1967.
When cautioned by officers, he replied: "I'm absolutely surprised and amazed." Questioned by Detective Constable Darren Irving of Lancashire Police Roache said he did not recognise the name of his accuser and was not involved in sexual activity with girls around the age of 15 while living in the area.
Roache added: "It's against my nature. I am a very peaceful person. I would never do anything like that." The account of the rapes given by Roache's accuser were put to him in detail. "I would never do that to anybody, I would remember that quite clearly," Roache told the officer.
The alleged victim said she was "frozen" and in shock, that he "fumbled" around to put a condom on, pulled her underwear to one side and raped her. "Did that happen, Bill?" the officer asked. "No, that did not happen," he replied. "Did you rape that girl on that occasion?"
"No, I did not. I have never raped anybody," Roache said. "This whole incident did not happen as far as I am concerned, I would've remembered it." The officer added: "So you categorically deny it?"
Roache said: "Absolutely categorically deny knowing her or doing anything with her. This whole thing is just astounding me, absolutely astounding me, I can't understand why it's happened." Details of the second alleged rape on the same victim at a different property some time later were then put to Roache during the interview.
Roache said: "No. This just did not happen." At the end of the first police interview, Roache added: "I'm denying it totally. I have no idea why these allegations are being made. I'm absolutely staggered, absolutely staggered, I don't really know what her motivation is."
The detective asked: "Can you think of any reason why this girl would lie to the police about what had happened?" Roache replied: "No. People nowadays ... it is happening quite a lot ... some people want a bit of sensation, a bit of publicity." Roache was later charged with two counts of rape and the publicity that followed led to four women coming forward to say he indecently assaulted them.
Arrested over the new allegations on June 6 last year, Roache gave a handwritten prepared statement to police ahead of being interviewed. He said he had not recognised any of the women after being given photographs of them around the time of the claims.
He said: "I firmly deny that any such indecent assaults took place at all. The incidents as described do not reflect in any way my behaviour at the time." He added he was a "very sensitive and caring person" who "always respected the wishes of other people".
"I would not dream of forcing myself on any other person," he said. During the interview he was taken through each of the indecent assault allegations against him - and denied any improper conduct. He denied any knowledge of any such incident and denied any sexual encounter, either consensual or non-consensual, with any young girl.
The officer asked Roache again: "Is there any reason why you think this would be coming out now?" "Only they know," Roache replied, "Only they know." The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.