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I'm absolutely ecstatic with the verdict.. the jury were able to see through the lies of an abuser.. - SHAMED COMIC'S EX YESTERDAY train; TV STAR COLLINS' HARASSMENT GUILT.

Byline: LOUIE SMITH louie.smith@mirror.co.uk

THE former girlfriend of shamed shaggy-haired comic Justin Lee Collins yesterday praised a jury for seeing through the "lies" of her abuser.

It came after Collins was found guilty of harassing Anna Larke and sentenced to 140 hours of unpaid community work.

In a statement read out by her brother, Miss Larke, 38, wrote: "We are absolutely ecstatic with the verdict and relieved the jury were able to see through the lies of an abuser.

"We will not rest on our laurels in the wake of this good news and intend to use this experience to empower women to stand up to domestic abuse.

"We are overwhelmed by the messages from people, inspired by Anna's experience, who have left their abusive relationships."

The guilty verdict could have resulted in a five-year jail sentence for the disgraced TV star. But Collins walked free from court thanks to his previous good record and a character reference from ex-wife Karen.

Collins winced in the dock at St Albans crown court as the jury ruled he had carried out a campaign of domestic abuse against Miss Larke, leaving her in fear ofviolence.

The jury heard how Collins slapped her on at least two occasions, called her vile names and made her write a dossier of her sexual history so he would have the "ultimate power" over her.

She told how the 38-year-old made her sleep facing towards him and forced her to throw out any DVDs of men she fancies.

Miss Larke also claimed Collins tried to throw her in front of a cab on a night out and threatened to kill her, then kill himself if she ever told anyone what he had done.

Former Friday Night Project star Collins refused to comment as he rushed from the court building to a waiting car, ignoring the jeers from several members of the public.

And just hours later, despite his court appearance, he seemed to be unconcerned about his upcoming punishment.

Wearing casual clothes, he was seen at St Albans train station laughing and joking with his legal team.

He stood on the platform smiling and sipping coffee as he waited for his train.

One onlooker said: "He seemed extremely laid back for someone who has just been convicted in the court. The whole platform could hear him laughing."

But the smiles could soon be wiped off his face as it is believed the funnyman's career is in ruins following the guilty verdict.

PR guru Max Clifford, who is representing Miss Larke, said the conviction could be the "kiss of death" for his showbiz career.

Bristol-born Collins has just finished performing in the West End show Rock of Ages. But the publicist said: "A lot of things came out which are going to be very damaging for him.

"People in radio and TV are going to be thinking long and hard before employing him now, and agents will have to think long and hard before booking him.

"It could be the kiss of death." Collins had been due to perform at the Prince's Trust We Are Most Amused show in London next month.

He was set to take to the stage alongside comedy legends Rowan Atkinson, Jimmy Carr and Helen Lederer. But last night he pulled out.

A Prince's Trust spokeswoman said: "Justin Lee Collins has taken the decision not to perform at the charity comedy gala at the Royal Albert Hall this November."

Collins also revealed yesterday that he was "extremely disappointed" with the guilty verdict. His spokeswoman added: "Justin will consider his position with his lawyer."

During the eight-day trial, Miss Larke made a catalogue of allegations of emotional, verbal and physical abuse against Collins.

The former PR worker, who gave all of her evidence from behind a screen, claimed he repeatedly slapped her during their seven-month relationship in 2011, causing "hundreds of bruises", and spat in her face.

Towards the end of the relationship she made several secret recordings of the comedian subjecting her to vile four-letter rants.

In one played to the jury he could be heard calling her a "f****** slag", a "dirty vile be heard whore", and a "f****** sex addict".

In another tape Collins said: "You bring the f****** demon out in me."

Collins admitted using the foul language, saying he was "ashamed", but denied all the other claims.

He was found guilty of causing recovering alcoholic Miss Larke fear of violence on at least two occasions between January and July last year.

f s Judge John Plumstead said yesterday: "This is a serious matter. It's serious because any violence in a relationship where people should be able to rely on each other is a breach of trust. y: sp n "Miss Larke is a vulnerable woman and d one with many difficulties. I'm confident that you became increasingly unable to deal with the difficulties and more than once lost your self control and acted in a violent way to her.

"This is not a run of the mill case of domestic violence. Firstly, I find the evidence of your wife who spoke about your relationship with her both truthful and convincing.

"That enables me to take the view that what happened between you and Anna was genuinely out of character."

Collins was ordered to do a period of unpaid work, such as removing graffiti and cleaning schools. Speaking about the community service, the judge added: "The very humility that manual work should induce will make you pause to think about what you have done."

But last night, domestic abuse charities slammed the punishment for being too lenient.

Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge, said: "We are disappointed with the sentence. Derisory sentences such as this simply reflect the need for further training to increase understanding of domestic violence and its impact - domestic lk s. d: y d f c violence kills two women a week.

"Until the courts give sentences that fit the crime, men like Justin Lee Collins will get away with campaigns of terror and thousands of women, like Anna, will continue to be at risk." e y f As part of his sentence Collins was also ordered to pay PS3,500 of the prosecution's costs. d Collins' marriage to his wife of nine years s Karen, 39, collapsed shortly after she found an email from Miss Larke in December 2010. However, Karen - mother of Collins' two young sons - yesterday criticised the jury's decision. Speaking from her home in Bristol, she said: "At the moment my priority is the children. But I can say that I think the verdict is ridiculous. I don't believe it for even one second." d r s' e e y at t 3 e IF you area victim of domestic abuse you can call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247. lp n

to More than once you lost control & acted in violent way to Miss Larke JUDGE TO COLLINS

CAPTION(S):

GUILTYJ Collins leaves court yesterday

MUGSHOT Photo issued by Herts police

UNHAPPY COUPLE J Collins with Anna in Miami last year

DELiGHT J Collins' ex Anna Larke

RELAXEDJ Collins with legal team

HAPPY J All smiles as he waits for train

JOKER J Funnyman bursts into laughter
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 10, 2012
Words:1218
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