Former actress Koo Stark has avoided standing trial over the alleged theft of a painting by reaching a deal with prosecutors to return the artwork to her former partner.

The 57 year old, best known for her role in 1976 erotic film Emily, was accused of taking a 17th-century oil painting by Dutch artist Anthonie van Borssom from the home of financier Warren Walker, the father of her teenage daughter.

She denied a charge of theft, and settled the case by bringing the $62,000 (£40,000) artwork with her to Isleworth crown court in Middlesex, England on Thursday (20Jun13).

The judge recorded a not guilty verdict as a formality and Stark walked free from court after resolving the matter, telling reporters, "Today I have been cleared of a charge that should never have been brought against me. I leave court with my liberty and my good name, but it should never have come to this. In my mind, I have been looking into a prison for the last 10 months. I have been vilified and put in the pillory. Fortunately, common sense has prevailed."

Stark, whose full first name is Kathleen, previously dated British royal Prince Andrew, and she was jilted by Walker 10 days before their wedding in 1997 while she was pregnant with their daughter.