A jury of eight women and four men delivered their verdict at Preston Crown Court on Thursday morning, finding the 81-year-old actor not guilty of two charges of rape and four of indecent assault.Roache had strenuously denied the accusations against him in the wake of his arrest, and throughout the subsequent legal proceedings.The verdict comes at the culmination of his four-week trial.Roache - who has played Ken Barlow in the long-running soap since its creation - had been accused of using his fame to exploit the girls in question, who were aged 16 and under at the time the alleged abuse was said to have happened.He did not appear in Coronation Street while the legal proceedings were ongoing.We look forward to talking to Bill soon about his return to work.ITVDefence lawyer Louise Blackwell QC told the court that the case against her client was "nonsense" and that the trial had been haunted by the "spectre" of Jimmy Savile.The late broadcaster has been at the centre of numerous allegations involving historic child sex abuse, prompting the Operation Yewtree investigations into similar cases."In the post-Jimmy Savile era, once someone makes an allegation, it's got to go to court - no sense will prevail, it has to go to court," Miss Blackwell said.As the jury delivered their verdict, Roache made no reaction but his family wept in the public gallery.One of his minders jumped to his feet and shouted: "Yes!" He began to clap before the judge told him to be quiet.Mr Justice Holroyde then released the actor, saying: "Mr Roache, you are free to leave the dock."His defence lawyer Louise Blackwell QC told the court that she would be applying for her client's legal costs to be paid by the taxpayer.I would like to get back to work.William RoacheOutside court, Roache spoke to the waiting press to say: "In these situations, there are no winners and I think we should all be much kinder to ourselves."Now, if you will excuse me, I would like to get back to work."He also thanked his family, friends, employers, colleagues and other well-wishers for their support.Roache did not respond when asked if the trial had been a "witch-hunt".During proceedings, his co-stars - including Anne Kirkbride, who plays his on-screen wife Deirdre - paid glowing tribute to the actor, describing him as a "gentleman" and a "father-figure" on set.A number of Coronation Street actors, past and present, have tweeted about the outcome of the trial, expressing their relief.Actress Sherrie Hewson, a former Corrie star who now appears in ITV show Benidorm, reacted emotionally when she heard the verdict while in the This Morning studio.She spoke of her relief, adding: "It's made me really well up - it's just that we've all backed him for so long. We all know Bill, we've worked with him. We knew right from the beginning ..."