Rolf Harris jailed for less than six years for sex assaults

Rolf Harris

Entertainer 'browsed child porn sites such as Young Little Girlies', jury hears for the first time today

LAST UPDATED AT 13:39 ON Fri 4 Jul 2014

Rolf Harris has been sentenced to five years and nine months for indecently assaulting four girls, including one who was just seven or eight.

The 84-year-old, who was found guilty on Monday of all 12 charges of indecent assault brought against him, has been told he must serve at least half of the sentence.

The Australian entertainer arrived at London's Southwark Crown Court for sentencing this morning after travelling by boat from his home in Bray, Berkshire. His daughter Bindi was by his side, but his wife Alwen was not in court, as she was apparently not well.

In a court packed with reporters, the judge told Harris: "You have shown no remorse; you have no-one to blame but yourself."

In a victim statement read out in court today, the woman who was assaulted at the age of seven or eight in 1969 said that in just a space of few minutes on that day her childhood innocence had gone.

The defence team had asked the judge to take into account Harris's age, health and the fact he has not behaved inappropriately for the last 20 years.

Earlier in the day, the judge revealed that Harris was facing four counts of making indecent images, but said these had been dropped in light of the convictions as they were no longer seen to be in the public interest. Police searching Harris's computer in 2012 had found he had been browsing websites of indecent images of children.

The entertainer allegedly copied 33 indecent images after trawling websites such as "Teeny Tiny Girlfriend", "Young Little Girlies" and "Little V******".

The websites show images of girls believed to be as young as 13, reports The Guardian. Police also found a note in Harris's diary, in his handwriting, of how to delete internet browser history.

Before the trial, his lawyers persuaded the judge that the four charges should be tried separately from the other counts. They argued that they needed more time to complete their defence, including measures to prove the girls on the websites were over 18. The decision meant the jury heard nothing about the images and was seen at the time as a major setback for the prosecution.


Rolf Harris: police consider fresh allegations

1 July

Police say they are considering fresh allegations against Rolf Harris, who was yesterday found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault spanning nearly two decades 

The BBC says "dozens" more alleged victims of the 84-year-old came forward during the trial. Some of the complaints came from people living in Harris's native Australia.

Sky News has spoken to two Australian women who say they were groped by Harris "in circumstances which echo some of the evidence heard during the fallen star's trial".

One, Louise Anton, says she met Harris at a function in Australia in 2008 and was assaulted while she posed for a photo with the star. After he allegedly slid his hand between her buttocks, she challenged Harris.

Anton says Harris responded by saying: "Feels good, dunnit?" A Perth-based writer and broadcaster, Jane Marwick, says Rolf groped her breast when she interviewed him in 2001 and posed for a photograph.

It has also emerged that Harris visited Broadmoor Hospital as a guest of repeat sex abuser and rapist Jimmy Savile. The NHS trust which runs the hospital confirmed that Harris had visited the premises but could not provide details, says Sky News.

The Department of Health said it would not consider an investigation into whether Harris was involved in sexual abuse at the hospital while inquiries into Savile's activities there, and at other hospitals, were still ongoing.

Responding to the news of Harris's conviction, Australian PM Tony Abbott said: "I feel gutted and dismayed but it's very important that we do everything we humanly can to protect vulnerable young people. Sexual abuse is an utterly abhorrent crime."

There are plans to remove a plaque commemorating Harris's birth in the Perth suburb of Bassendean – and to remove some of his paintings which are displayed in council buildings there. In the UK, Bafta has said it will strip Harris of his fellowship.

Rolf Harris guilty of indecent assaults

30 June 

Rolf Harris has been found guilty of indecently assaulting four girls over a period of 18 years.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court convicted him of 12 attacks that took place between 1968 and 1986. One of the victims was just seven years old.

Another was a friend of his daughter, who said Harris began to assault her when she was 13. Harris's defence had claimed that the relationship was consensual and had only begun when the girl was 18.

During the eight-week trial, the 84-year-old entertainer sang for the jury, showed them how to blow into a didgeridoo and even demonstrated the sound of his famous "wobble board".

At one point the prosecution reminded the entertainer that the trial was "not a talent show" and persuaded him to admit that he had a darker side that allowed him to conceal affairs from his wife.

"Prosecutors portrayed Harris as a 'Jekyll and Hyde' character, who had a dark side to his personality," the BBC reports.

 According to the Daily Telegraph, "the verdicts leave his reputation – forged during a glittering 50-year career – in tatters and will see him facing a lengthy jail sentence".

The judge said that a custodial sentence was "uppermost in the court's mind".

Here is how the trial unfolded:   

Thursday 19 June: jury retires to consider verdict

Judge Justice Sweeney finished his summing up of the evidence this morning. He reminded jurors of the evidence given by alleged victim Tonya Lee, an Australian who waived her right to anonymity. She claimed Harris assaulted her on the first day of a trip to England at a meal in a London pub and that she subsequently lost up to six kilos during the six-week UK tour. However, the defence revealed that she got the dates wrong and that the meal happened at end of the tour. The judge also gave a recap of the evidence given by a mother and daughter who claimed Harris assaulted them both at a DIY shop in Australia in 1991. 

Wednesday 18 June: jury not to overvalue 'octopus' remark

The judge today focused on the accusations made by a childhood friend of Harris's daughter Bindi. The alleged victim says Harris "ruined her life" by abusing her for 16 years starting on a holiday to Hawaii in 1978 when she was aged 13. Harris insisted that their relationship began after she turned 18 and was consensual. The judge noted that in her police interview Bindi said she could not remember going to Hawaii, but she later told the court that on the trip she was with her friend "every single moment of every single day".

Discussing the evidence of an Australian make-up artist, the judge told the jury not to overestimate the value of her suggestion that the entertainer was known as "the octopus" because of his roaming hands. "Don't overvalue in your considerations the mention of the octopus because it comes from only one witness," he said.

Tuesday 17 June: jurors told to 'forget stereotypes'

Judge Justice Sweeney has started summing up the case at Southwark Crown Court. He told jurors to forget any stereotype they may have about sexual offenders or victims and to guard against "speculation or emotion". They must give "cool, calm and dispassionate consideration of the evidence together with the courage to return true verdicts", he said.

The prosecution has claimed that the alleged victims and bad character witnesses have given "chillingly similar" accounts, said Sweeney, but the defence has dismissed the claim, arguing that Harris is "a natural hugger and that left him open to false accusations". The judged noted that each victim had witnesses who they had told about the alleged assaults and most of these people were told before the Jimmy Savile investigation was launched.

Monday 16 June: Harris has faced 'public humiliation'

Rolf Harris is "clearly far from perfect" but there is "unavoidable doubt" over the prosecution's case against him, his defence counsel Simon Ray said in his closing speech today. Ray, who has stepped in for Harris's lead barrister Sonia Woodley after she fell ill last week, said his client has been punished for his past infidelities through "public humiliation" in court. But there are problems with the prosecution's case that "cannot be pushed aside", he said.

One alleged victim claimed Harris touched her bottom at a celebrity event in Cambridge in 1975, but when a video emerged of Harris in Cambridge in 1978 it was suggested she might have got the dates wrong. "Was she 13 or was she 16?" asked Ray. "Those three years for a teenager are a real and significant difference and not one that you would get wrong." Another woman claimed Harris groped her at an event near Portsmouth between 1968 and 1970, but Ray said there is "no evidence from any independent source that the event described took place". Harris has also admitted that he had an adult relationship with his daughter's friend but insisted she had some responsibility for their fling. Their trysts were "cringe-worthy" and regrettable but not child abuse, said Ray.

Summarising the defence case, Ray told the court: "One thing is certain, Mr Harris's reputation has effectively been trashed and will never be the same again. It may be that your own childhood memories have been altered. But after all of that when you take a step back, have the prosecution come close to satisfying you so that you are sure he is guilty of any of this? You may conclude quite properly that they have fallen a long way short of that and ultimately that is the only decision that counts."

Tuesday 10 June: evidence of sex abuse is 'compelling'

Following a day of legal arguments, closing speeches are now underway. Prosecutor Wass has told the jury that Harris cannot "sing" his way out of sex abuse charges. She told jurors to ignore claims that Harris was a victim of a "celebrity witch hunt", repeating that the alleged victims had no connection to each other and no motive to lie. "Their evidence is compelling and they are clearly telling the truth – you can be in no doubt of Rolf Harris's guilt," she said. She added: "The victims in this case have suffered a dreadful set of experiences at the hands of Rolf Harris. Neither his fame, wealth, age or talent can provide any excuse for this behaviour."

Meanwhile, a 2012 email from Harris's daughter Bindi, in which she asks her father when she will receive her inheritance, has been released by the judge. In the letter, Bindi says waiting for Harris's £11m fortune is "like being told you will win the lottery at some point so you get excited". She implored her father to reveal his financial plans and not leave everything to his brother Bruce, now aged 90. The prosecution last week pressed Bindi on her motive for defending her father, but she insisted she was telling the truth and that the email was taken out of context.

Thursday 5 June: Sue Cook appears for Harris's defence 

Former Crimewatch presenter Sue Cook told the court that Harris's claim that he had never been to Cambridge during the 1970s was not necessarily a deliberate lie. In response to allegations that he had grabbed the bottom of a waitress in the city in 1975, Harris said he first went to Cambridge four years ago, but it later emerged that he had filmed an episode of the TV series Star Games there in 1978. Cook, 65, said celebrities were bussed from location to location and cities blurred into one another. She had also forgotten her appearance on the show, she added. 

The Australian entertainer Kerry Robson also gave evidence, saying that she had worked with Harris in Sinai in 1983 while he was entertaining troops. She described him as an "absolute professional" and said she never felt uncomfortable in his presence.

Wednesday 4 June: make-up artist claims 'ridiculous'

Harris's older brother Bruce Harris, 90, gave evidence today from Australia via video link. He became the entertainer's manager in 1981 and travelled with him on extensive tours of Canada and Australia. Bruce said claims that his younger brother groped a make-up artist more than two dozen times in a single day are "ridiculous". He added: "He would never do that and I wouldn't let him do that, and he knew I wouldn't let him do that. That's just not possible," he said. Bruce added that he had seen his brother work with hundreds of children and was never concerned by his behaviour. He said he never heard that his brother was nicknamed "The Octopus" because he put his hands on women.

Tuesday 3 June: Harris would 'run away' from giggling girls

The court heard from several character witnesses for the defence, including Joanne Charles, whose father ran a club in Malta where Harris would perform in the 1970s. Charles said the allegations against Harris are completely opposed to the man she has known since she was six. Harris would remark on her "lovely curves", said Charles, but they were not offensive or lurid remarks, just warm and friendly. Charles was friends with Harris's daughter Bindi, as well as one of the alleged victims who claims Harris abused her between the ages of 13 and 29. Charles said she never saw Harris show any interest in the alleged victim. "When we were all together, I think we were too loud and too giggly and Rolf used to run away from the noise and the giggling," she said. 

In other evidence, Bruce Forsyth's assistant Rosemarie Ford, who co-presented the Generation Game, told the jury Harris was "a very lovely human being". She said: "I have never seen any indication of him being sinister or inappropriate. I have been around the business a long time and you learn to recognise an inappropriate manner but I never saw that with Rolf."

Monday 2 June: video contradicts Harris's story

Harris returned to the witness stand for his fourth and final day. Last week he insisted he could not have assaulted a 14-year-old girl at a celebrity event in Cambridge in the 1970s because he only went to Cambridge for the first time four years ago. Today the prosecution showed the court a video of Harris at a celebrity event called Star Games shot in Cambridge in 1978. Jurors were shown footage of Harris jumping up and down like a kangaroo, reports the BBC. The prosecution suggested Harris told a "deliberate lie", but he insisted he had no idea he was in Cambridge at the time and put his mistake down to "a lapse of memory". Harris later denied groping a make-up artist in Australia on a separate occasion, claiming it would have been physically impossible for him to put his hands up her shorts.

Harris finished giving evidence just after midday and his daughter Bindi Nicholls, 50, was called to the witness stand. Harris is accused of abusing one of Bindi's childhood friends for 16 years from the age of 13. Bindi said she was with her friend "all the time" during a holiday on which the alleged victim claims Harris first assaulted her. They were "stuck together like glue", said Bindi, and she never noticed a change in her friend's behaviour. Asked about claims Harris performed oral sex on her friend while she slept in the same room, Bindi replied: "It's ridiculous. It's sort of laughable." Bindi said she was in "utter shock" when her friend later told her in 1996 that she had been having an affair with father since she was 18 or 19. "It felt like the whole world had changed in an instant," she told the court.

She told jurors she was suicidal after learning the news and later said she feared her father could die from the strain of the trial.

Thursday 29 May: Bindi 'beside herself' over claims
The court hears how Harris's daughter Bindi smashed two of his paintings and banged her head against a wall in anger when she first heard that he had a sexual relationship with one of her friends. Bindi had been "beside herself with shock" after her friend made the allegations and confronted him in a phone call, the court heard.

Giving evidence for the defence, a friend of Bindi's told the court the Harris family were "warm with each other – very loving, very cuddly, very giggly". Lonneke Broadribb, Bindi's friend from primary school, said Harris had never behaved inappropriately towards her and said he would greet people with a "big cuddle or a kiss" but that it was affectionate, not sexual.

Wednesday 28 May: Harris admits admiring 13-year-old
Under cross-examination, Harris admitted that he admired his daughter's friend sexually when she was just 13 years old. Wass quizzed him about a comment that he allegedly made to his daughter's friend about her bikini turning him on. "You made it plain to her you admired her and her body and you admired her sexually," said Wass. Harris replied: "It didn't compute to that in my mind." He conceded that in "hindsight" he supposed that saying to a 13-year-old that she looks great in a bikini was a sexual remark. "It seems from your answers to the questions that you admired her body sexually during that holiday," said the prosecutor. "It’s possible, yes," Harris replied.

But the entertainer insisted that nothing had happened sexually with the woman until she was 18. Harris admitted to hiding his "dark side" and not being the "whitest of white and pure" but insisted his accusers were lying. When asked why he lied in his first statement to police officers about having only two sexual encounters with his daughter's friend in her late 20s, Harris replied: "We had two very attractive young ladies in the lawyer's chamber when I was drafting my statement and I was just embarrassed."

Tuesday 27 May: Harris sings Jake the Peg
The defence opens its case and Rolf Harris takes the witness stand. The 84-year-old laughed and even broke into song as he described his early life and rise to fame. He demonstrated the sound of a "wobble board", as well as how he would blow into a didgeridoo, before singing a verse from his 1965 single Jake The Peg.

When asked about the allegations of abuse, Harris told the court that they simply never happened. He admitted to having a sexual relationship with his daughter's friend, but said this had only begun once she was 18 and said she "seemed to be welcoming the whole business and enjoying it". He revealed that their last sexual encounter was when the woman was aged 29. After that he had an affair with another woman, who was staying in his family home. His wife later found out and was "devastated". At the time of two other alleged assaults, Harris claimed he was not even in the country.

The judge revealed today that Harris had been spotted drawing sketches in the dock last week. Mr Justice Sweeney said the sketching "was innocent", but the drawings had been confiscated and destroyed. Jurors were told "not to hold it against the defendant in any way".

Friday 23 May: no evidence to back claims
Jurors have been told by the defence that there is "no independent evidence" that proves Harris was at two of the events where he allegedly groped two women. Despite searching newspaper archives, no trace could be found of Harris appearing at the Portsmouth community centre in 1969 or at the celebrity event in Cambridge in 1975. The prosecution wraps up its case.

Thursday 22 May: mother and daughter describe abuse
A mother and daughter have given evidence via video link from New Zealand. Harris allegedly rubbed himself against the mother, moments after molesting her teenage daughter at a promotion at a small hardware shop in Australia in 1991. The older woman said she told Harris he was "a disgusting creature" and claimed Harris had told her "she likes it" – apparently referring to her daughter.

Wednesday 21 May: Tonya Lee defends selling her story
Lee was cross-examined by the defence, which claimed that she made up the claims to sell her story to pay off debts. Lee admitted that she had got the date of the alleged offence wrong by at least one month and that she owed Aus$13,000 in taxes and credit card debts – but she denied "spicing up" her story for the media. During the afternoon session, Lee's brother told the court that she had once described Harris as a "kiddie toucher or kiddie fiddler". Later, a make-up artist told the jury she was groped by Harris while working on a TV show in Australia in 1986.

Tuesday 20 May: alleged victim 'assaulted in London pub'
The court has heard from the first witness to waive her right to anonymity. Tonya Lee claimed she developed eating disorders and alcoholism after being indecently assaulted as a 15-year-old in a pub by Harris in 1986. She said they met in a London pub on her first night in the UK with an Australian youth theatre group. After praising her singing voice, Harris allegedly asked her to sit on his lap before assaulting her. When she tried to escape to the toilet, Harris allegedly waited outside and gave her "a big bear hug" before putting his hand down her top and inside her tights and underwear. "I was gobsmacked," she said. Lee admitted that she had sold her story to Australian media last year for more than £30,000, but said this was "a huge mistake" and insisted it did not undermine the truth of her story.

Monday 19 May: Harris 'introduced child to tongue kiss'
The court heard from another three women who separately claim Harris indecently assaulted them. One woman described Harris as a "disgusting, vile, repulsive man" who groped her when she was 16 as they danced at a public event. She only reported the incident to the police when she read that he had been arrested in 2012. Another woman said she was aged 11 and wearing her pyjamas when Harris assaulted her in Darwin, Australia, in 1969. Now in her mid-50s, the woman told the court: "He asked me how old I was. He said: 'Good. I want to be the first one to introduce you to a tongue kiss.'" The woman said Harris then pulled her towards him and kissed her. She said she was "absolutely repulsed" by it. A third woman told the court she feared she might be raped at the age of 18 when Harris pulled her into a side room of a bar in Malta and forcibly kissed and groped her.

Thursday 15 May: Harris 'groped girl of seven or eight'
A second alleged victim, now in her early 50s, gave evidence. The woman claimed Harris "aggressively and forcefully" groped her when she was seven or eight, twice putting his hand between her legs after she had queued for his autograph at a community centre in Portsmouth in the late 1960s. Tearfully, she told the court that she "wasn't the same child" after the assault.

Another witness took the stand to describe how Harris had groped her when she was working as a waitress at a 'Celebrity It's a Knock Out' event in Cambridge at the age of 13 or 14 in 1975. Also close to tears, the woman said Harris put his arm around her shoulder before gripping her bottom several times.

Wednesday 14 May: Harris admits to affair
The court heard from the first alleged victim's mother, father, brother and friend, none of whom can be named. The father said he wrote an outraged letter to Harris when he found out about the assault claims. "All I know is that I wrote saying I presumed whatever had taken place has been the cause of her drinking, and I really was very, very angry. In the letter I just said that I did not want to see him again." The court has been shown Harris's reply to that letter, in which he begs forgiveness, admitting to a sexual relationship with the daughter but saying it only began when she was an adult.

The alleged victim's brother told the court that he rang Harris after being told about the allegations, threatening violence over the abuse of his sister. Harris allegedly told him "It takes two to tango."

Tuesday 13 May: witness denies 'sexual chemistry'
Harris's defence barrister, Sonia Woodley, cross-examined the first witness who claimed she was sexually assaulted by the entertainer from the age of 13 to 29. Woodley suggested that the witness had a "consenting sexual relationship" with the defendant from the age of 18. The witness denied that there was "sexual chemistry" between them and said she did not consent to the encounters.

Woodley read from a diary entry written by the witness on a day Harris allegedly assaulted her on holiday. "Today was great, we went on the beach and went swimming," the witness wrote, mentioning nothing of the attack. In response, the woman said: "The day was great up until the point he took the towel out and put it round me and fondled me. I wouldn't put that in the diary. I would make it sound better in the diary."

Monday 12 May: woman describes holiday abuse
The first alleged victim to give evidence was a woman, now in her late 40s, who was friends with Harris's daughter Bindi when they were young girls. Speaking from behind a screen, she told the court that she was first touched by Harris on holiday when she was 13. On another occasion, the victim claimed, Harris assaulted her as his daughter Bindi slept in an adjoining bed. The witness said she soon developed a drinking habit and the sexual contact continued until she was 29. She said she felt unable to stop it. "I should have shouted and screamed," she told the court. It was not until she was in her early 30s that she told her parents. She stopped drinking in 2000 but still receives treatment for anxiety and panic attacks.

Harris sat in the glassed-in dock, listening impassively to proceedings through a hearing loop headset, reports The Guardian. The woman explained that she eventually went to the police after seeing Harris on television at the Queen's diamond jubilee concert in 2012. "It was like he'd invaded my home every time I switched the telly on. You flick over and there's his mug," she said. "That's when I decided I wasn't going to have any more of it."

Friday 9 May: Harris compared to 'Jekyll and Hyde'
The prosecution opened its case, accusing Harris of being a serial molester who used his celebrity status to publicly grope victims. Prosecuting lawyer Sasha Wass described Harris as a "Jekyll and Hyde" character with his charm and talent concealing the "dark side" of a man who "exploited the very children who were drawn to him". 

She stressed that none of the alleged victims knew each other and almost all went to the police in the wake of the Jimmy Savile case. She told the jury: "You have to ask yourself: have all the girls, unknown to each other, made it up? Or are they telling the truth and they are describing the dark side of Mr Harris, the Mr Hyde that lies within."

Thursday 8 May: jurors are sworn in
A jury of six men and six women have been sworn in. Three extra jurors were also chosen in case there are any issues that prevent the existing jurors hearing the case. For example, if they recognise one of the witnesses.

Tuesday 6 May: Harris arrives in court
Rolf Harris, accompanied by his wife Alwen, arrived at Southwark Crown Court for the start of his trial. The 84-year-old entertainer, from Bray, Berkshire, denies assaulting four girls, the youngest of whom was seven or eight, between 1968 and 1986. The four complainants are expected to take the stand, as well as several "bad character" witnesses, mainly women from Australia and New Zealand who allege Harris also assaulted them. These alleged offences took place outside the UK too long ago to be prosecuted in a British court. The trial, which is being heard in front of Mr Justice Sweeney, begins with jury selection. · 

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" fame wealth and talent cannot excuse abuse"......
Was there not an alleged case against the Head of UK education Chris Woodhouse some years ago ? Nothing much happened there.

Well not a single thread of real proof, just words and dubious memories from both sides, it's the prosecution that has to prove beyond reasonable doubt not the defense. This appears to have been a massive waste of court time and money!

Geeze they are dragging this one out .The lawyers must be dancing with joy especially as it seems there is no actual proof . Just a thought here what happens to the complainants if he's found not guilty .do they just get to walk away or do they get charged with wasting police time and trying to defruad Mr harris

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