Rolf Harris jailed for string of indecent assaults

Rolf Harris has been sentenced to five years and nine months in jail after being convicted of 12 indecent assaults against four girls in the UK between 1968 and 1986.

Rolf Harris jailed for string of indecent assaults

Rolf Harris jailed for string of indecent assaults

The disgraced 84-year-old, who arrived at a packed Southwark Crown court by boat and had a suitcase with him in the dock,showed little emotion as Justice Nigel Sweeney went through the counts, telling Harris he had 'shown no remorse at all'.

He could be out of jail in less than three years on license.

Four impact statements were earlier read out to the court: the main victim impact statement described how Harris made her feel 'dirty, grubby and disgusting', while another described how 'he treated me like a toy he had played with for his own pleasure'.

One victim described how shed had since 'never felt safe', developed eating disorders and had since become an alcoholic.

Rolf Harris's lawyer had pleaded for leniency when it came to his sentencing given the 84-year-old is already "on borrowed time".

The judge said the attacks were a "breach of trust", especially for the main victim, who was a childhood friend of Harris's daughter Bindi.

Other aggravating factors included the age gap between Harris and his victims, the youngest of whom was seven or eight.


The judge said he wouldn't consider compensation because assessing the psychological harm done to the victims was a complex process. Harris could, however, face a raft of damages claims in the civil courts.

Defence lawyer Sonia Woodley QC revealed the court had seen medical reports on Harris and his wife Alwen, who wasn't in court on Friday, with a family spokesman telling AAP she was suffering from arthritis.

Rolf Harris arriving at Southwark Crown Court earlier today> Credit: Getty

Ms Woodley also argued, in mitigation, that Harris's attacks were "opportunistic rather than predatory".

The barrister added that Harris had no prior convictions and hadn't committed any sexual offences after 1994.

"For the last 20 years he has led an upright life," Ms Woodley told Southwark Crown Court.

She said since his arrest was made public in April 2013, his lawyers have received three lever arch files of letters and emails and two sacks of cards from supporters, including young children who have met the entertainer.

"Yes, he must be punished for the offences that he has committed, but it would be unfair to ignore the good that he has done in his life," she said.

Ms Woodley noted Harris had been patron of 16 charities during his life.

The 84-year-old, due to his age, was already on "borrowed time", she added.

"He has a limited lifespan left and that will be diminished by a prison sentence due to the state of his health," Ms Woodley said.

"Every day, every month in prison, is going to shorten his life."

The barrister said he needed some hope that in the future he could spend his twilight years with his family.

Since his conviction on Monday, Harris has been publicly shamed and stripped of various honours.

"He has already been punished apart from any sentence imposed by this court," Ms Woodley said.

The court also heard harrowing statements regarding the impact of Harris's indecent assaults on his four victims.

Bindi's friend said in a victim impact statement read to the court that the Australian's abuse had left her feeling "dirty, grubby and disgusting".

"The whole sordid saga has traumatised me."

The woman, now 49, said after she was first abused at the age of 13 she'd had panic attacks, suffered from anxiety and started drinking.

She said as a young girl she'd always wanted to have a career, settle down and have a family.

"However, as a direct result of his actions, this has never materialised," she said in the statement read out by prosecution lawyer Esther Schutzer-Weissman.

Australian woman Tonya Lee was assaulted by Harris when she visited London in 1986 as a 15-year-old. She said the incident at a pub was a "turning point" in her life from which she never recovered.

"I have never felt safe since, I life in a constant state of anxiety," said in her impact statement read out by Ms Schutzer-Weissman.

"What Mr Harris took from me was my very essence. I believe that it was for Mr Harris a forgettable moment, but it was something for me I will never move on from."

Ms Lee, who developed eating and alcohol problems after the attack, revealed in later life she had her three children removed from her care.

Harris's youngest victim was groped when she asked for his autograph in the late 1960s. She said seeing the star at a community centre was her first taste of independence.

But in those few moments her "childhood innocence was gone", she said in her statement.

She subsequently didn't like being touched by men and found it difficult to form relationships.

A fourth victim who was assaulted at a celebrity sporting event in Cambridge when she was a teenager said Harris took advantage of her, making her feel ashamed.

The 52-year-old said the star "treated me like a toy" that he could play with for his own pleasure.

Rolf Harris plays the Wobble Board during a literary lunch in 2008. Photo: Getty

Harris won't be tried over images

Convicted paedophile Rolf Harris will not stand trial over allegations he downloaded sexual images of children, prosecutors said on Friday.

Prosecutors were speaking before Harris was sentenced on Friday for indecently assaulting four girls in Britain between 1968 and 1986.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC told Southwark Crown Court on Friday: "In the light of the 12 unanimous convictions on the counts that Mr Harris faced, the Crown prosecution Service has decided that it is no longer in the public interest to proceed with a trial on these four charges."

Prosecutors had claimed that the 84-year-old had 33 such photographs in a much larger collection of thousands of adult pornographic images.

But Harris's legal team told Justice Sweeney in previously unreportable legal argument that the models in the photographs were over 18, according to their identity documents provided by website bosses in the Ukraine.

They also maintained that the entertainer accidentally accessed the images when he clicked on links from mainstream porn sites.

Prosecutors claimed he had looked at a site called "teeny tiny girlfriends" and accessed a picture of a girl who was "extremely young in appearance".

Harris also allegedly clicked on other words including "youngest teen porn", "my little nieces" and "young teen girls".

Expert opinion gathered by both sides disagreed over whether the images were of underage girls, with the prosecution claiming one was of a child under 13.

This was denied by the defence, which maintained that all the models were adults and that the word "teen" could refer to someone of 18 or 19 years of age.

Both sides agreed he had clicked on "young teen galleries" and "Russian virgins" while looking at porn.

Prosecutors alleged that he deleted the images because he knew they were illegal, but again the defence denied this, and said that according to the Internet Watch Foundation the websites were not known for putting up illegal pictures.

The veteran performer was charged with four counts of accessing indecent images by police, but he never entered pleas to them in court.

Barrister Simon Ray told Justice Sweeney that 328 of the unique web page views that Harris generated, 39 per cent of the total, were for adult porn, while only 31, which was 4 per cent, were for material that featured younger looking models.

In total ,24 images found in the "allocated" memory of the computer were alleged to be illegal, and another nine that were found in an "unallocated" area, where deleted files were stored.

The defence argued that the charges should be thrown out after the identity cards were provided by the website companies, and prosecutors eventually decided not to pursue the counts.

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