Justin Lee Collins' former girlfriend accused of blackmail
THE ex-girlfriend of Justin Lee Collins has been accused of trying to blackmail the comedian.
Anna Larke, 38, was yesterday asked whether she had threatened to report the former Friday Night Project host to the police if he did not give her £20,000 after they broke up.
Sonia Woodley QC, defending Collins, said: "You told him 'Give me £20,000 or I'm going to hurt you and I'm going to go to the police'."
Miss Larke, who alleges Bristol-born Collins harassed and assaulted her during their nine month relationship, replied: "Oh my God, that's absolute lies. I've never said that."
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Ms Woodley said Collins texted Miss Larke back after her alleged threat, saying: "I've offered you all sorts of help but I'm not getting involved in blackmail".
But Miss Larke told the jury at St Albans Crown Court: "If I had just wanted money I would have gone straight to the press."
The court heard the public relations worker was not in a job at the time they split.
Collins, also 38, who moved from Bristol to Kew, London, where he lived with Miss Larke, denies a charge of harassment by causing her fear of violence.
Giving evidence yesterday, Miss Larke's mother Penelope told the court her daughter would call her and tell her that Collins had smacked her and sworn at her.
Mrs Larke said her daughter seemed happy at the start of the relationship but that things changed when she moved to London to live with the comic.
"I could tell from her voice," said Mrs Larke. "I asked her 'Are you happy, darling?' She said 'I'm OK mum, just, you know, he has a bad temper and everything has to be perfect'."
She said her daughter told her Collins had pressurised her to tell him about her sexual past.
"I said it wasn't very decent of him to ask such personal questions."
Mrs Larke said Collins had told her daughter if she didn't like it, she could leave, adding: "He called her all the names under the sun, terrible names."
Miss Larke also told her mother that Collins had smacked her on the face but asked her to keep it secret.
"She said 'Mum I have to tell you something, you have to promise me first that you won't say anything to anybody', and then she said he smacked her and swears at her," said Mrs Larke. "She told me he smacked her in the private parts. I told her it wasn't a very healthy relationship and that she should just pack her bags and come home."
Miss Larke's father, Jeremy, told the court it was like "walking on eggshells" when his daughter visited the family home while she was with Collins.
He said he asked his daughter about "reddish marks" on her face and arms but said she dismissed them and would change the subject if they asked her about the relationship.
Her moods would be "up and down" and she seemed "depressed", Mr Larke added.
Following the split, he described his daughter as being "completely irrational and torn apart".
"She said there had been a fiery end to it," Mr Larke told the court.
He said that only when she moved back home did his daughter tell him that Collins had assaulted her during a trip to America.
Mr Larke told police his daughter had told them Collins had grabbed her hair, dragged her around the room and smacked or kicked her in her genital area, the court heard.
"It was a great shock to me," Mr Larke told the jury. "I can't believe he would beat her up. I am very upset about it."
The case continues.