He was kind, generous and never violent, says JLC's estranged wife
THE estranged wife of TV presenter Justin Lee Collins has told a jury he is a "lovely, genuine person" who was never violent to her.
The 38-year-old comedian is currently going through a divorce from Karen Collins, after leaving the marital home in Clifton for an ill-fated relationship with Anna Larke, who has accused him of harassment.
Appearing as a defence witness yesterday, Karen told St Albans Crown Court she and Collins are still friends. Speaking quietly and with her estranged husband looking on from the dock, she said he was a "lovely dad" to their sons Archie, seven, and Harvey, four.
Asked to describe him, she said: "Gentle, not aggressive, kind and generous."
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She added that he never tried to control her.
"I was always free to go out with friends if I wanted to," she said.
Collins, who now lives in Kew, London, had a seven-month relationship with public relations worker Ms Larke, also 38, last year.
He denies a charge of harassment by causing her fear of violence.
The jury has heard a secret recording Ms Larke made of the entertainer verbally abusing her during a row last July.
She has made a series of allegations that he hit her, threatened her and called her derogatory, abusive names.
Collins' friend Boyd Hilton, a journalist for Heat magazine who ghost-wrote the comic's autobiography and has been on several holidays with him, said: "He is really quite shy. He doesn't really like the showbusiness world and he doesn't hang out in that world."
Mr Hilton joined the defendant and Ms Larke on holiday in New York in March last year when she alleges Collins bruised her face.
He said he had seen no bruises and said Collins was "always very supportive of her".
The performer's agent, Peter Bennett-Jones, who owns his own management company, described his client as "an extraordinarily polite individual professionally".
Earlier the trial heard Collins confirm that he had threatened to throw himself off the Clifton Suspension Bridge when his wife discovered an email from Ms Larke before his marriage ended.
He said: "Karen had confronted me with the email and said: 'What's this?'
"We had an emotional discussion – both of us were very upset."
Collins and his wife had been married for nine years but were together for 15 in total, the court heard.
Describing Ms Larke as a "fantasist", Collins said he was still willing to financially support her but was harassed by her texting him.
He said that three weeks after she walked out of their home, she sent him 103 text messages on one day.
But the jury wrote down a questions asking Collins to explain why, on the same day, he had replied with 114 texts and signed off: "Speak tomorrow, gorgeous."
He said ignoring her texts did not work, and added: "I still had feelings for her, I still loved her."
Closing speeches by prosecution and defence counsel were due to begin today before trial judge John Plumstead sums up the case.