Emmerdale star Mark Jordon has told of his year of hell after being accused of beating up a pensioner in a beer garden – and how his family and castmates dragged him back from despair.
Mark, 54, who played Daz Spencer in the ITV soap , poured his heart out to the Sunday People this week after being cleared by a jury.
The actor, who also played Pc Phil Bellamy in Heartbeat for 17 years, said: “I was portrayed as a violent drunk.
"I’d never been in a fight before, never been in trouble with the law, never been in a cell or a police car, apart from a 1960s one in Heartbeat.
“I’d never been to court, never had to arrange a lawyer or barrister. It’s been an education, but not one I would have chosen.”
Mark was full of praise for a remarkable show of support by loyal Emmerdale co-stars who turned up in court during his seven-day trial.
They included Nick Miles, who plays Jimmy King, Sammy Winward, who portrayed Katie Sugden, Chris Bisson – Jai Sharma, Claire Hardwick – Val Pollard and Chris Chittell – the soap’s longest-serving character Eric Pollard.
Line Of Duty star Arsher Ali, who is married to Emmerdale actress Roxy Shahidi, was also there.
Mark said: “When you are sitting in court accused of something terrible, behind glass screens, it is unnerving.
“My colleagues have been wonderful. I’m blessed that they sat in the public gallery every day.
“Seeing them there kept me strong. It was incredible that they turned up every day.”
The actor, who is engaged to co-star Laura Norton, 36, also revealed he had to spend all their wedding funds – a five-figure sum – on lawyers because he did not qualify for legal aid.
He said: “I was at home watching the wedding fund being spent on barristers fees. Watching it dwindle.
“But now we can start all over we’re already discussing plans.
“Now I’m finally looking forward to what’s around the corner.”
Mark’s life was turned upside down while out with family and friends last July celebrating his engagement to Laura, who is Kerry Wyatt in the soap.
He was held in a police cell for 15 hours after being accused of acting like “a mad dog” and biting Andrew Potts, 68, when a brawl broke out.
The trouble erupted at the Farrars Arms in Oldham, Lancs, near Mark’s home after Mr Potts and his partner Rosalind O’Neill made comments about the actor’s daughter Poppy – then aged 17 – who had been straddling a teenage family friend in the beer garden.
Ms O’Neill allegedly said: “I hope they’re using protection,” while Mr Potts was said to have called her a “slag” and claimed he had video of her which he would post on YouTube.
Manchester’s Minshull Street crown court court heard that Mark was dragged away from Mr Potts, screaming: “I’ll f***ing kill you, you old b*****d.” CCTV showed Mr Potts throwing punches before alleging Mark had taken cocaine.
Mark said: “I had a nose injury, he punched me two times on the nose. To try and remove himself from the contact he probably thought it was a great idea to say that.”
Speaking about the night of his engagement party, Mark said: “There were about ten of us, I’d been there a few hours and had shared three bottles of prosecco. I was happily merry.
“I didn’t notice them until his girlfriend made these comments.
“He called my daughter a ‘slag’ and Laura a ‘stupid f***ing woman’.
“He said he had recorded it for YouTube and I just wanted to see it deleted. When you have children no-one has the right to tape them, to threaten to use it. You always protect your children.
“It’s been reported the lad was her boyfriend, but he wasn’t. It was a friend we met there. They were there swaying, like they were doing a dance.
“If they were being salacious I would have pulled them up, but they were just in high spirits. Laura was even taking pictures of them on her phone. They were just being teenagers.”
Mark told of the impact on his fiancée, saying: “One week after our engagement Laura should have been floating on air, making plans, looking for venues, drawing up guest lists.
“But for over a year she didn’t get that opportunity. It took all the enjoyment away.” Speaking of the impact on his own life, Mark said: “I’ve never been a Friday night in the pub fella, but we did like to go out every now and then for meals.
“But for a year I wasn’t going out because I was assuming people would be negative and judgemental.
“I’ve been a kind of respected geezer, suddenly I’m being tainted with this vile image. But I have come out of the other end wiser.
“The support and love I’ve had will give me strength. There’s also the discipline of keeping calm while dealing with what’s going on around you.
“I’m a very lucky person, loved by family and friends and with a job I love. It’s an incredible place to be.”
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