News Courts

Friday 22 August 2014

Jury didn't hear claims about child porn searches

Chris Green

Published 05/07/2014 | 02:30

  • Share
A statement on behalf of one of Rolf Harris's victims is read to the press at Southwark Crown Court after he was jailed for 12 counts of indecent assault. Photo: Tristan Fewin

CLAIMS that Rolf Harris browsed websites featuring girls as young as 13 and took notes on how to delete his internet history were never heard by the jury who convicted him of 12 counts of indecent assault against children, it emerged yesterday.

  • Share
  • Go To

Prosecutors were due to allege that the 84-year-old entertainer accessed child pornography websites.

Harris was charged with four counts of accessing indecent images by police, but never entered pleas as his defence team successfully persuaded the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, to separate them off from the main trial.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC told Southwark Crown Court that the Crown Prosecution Service had since decided that it was "no longer in the public interest" to pursue a second trial on the outstanding charges "in the light of the 12 unanimous convictions on the counts that Mr Harris faced".

The court previously heard how police searching Harris's home in Bray, Berkshire, in 2012 had discovered a stash of explicit images on his desktop computer, 33 of which appeared to be of children – including one under the age of 13.

The officers from Operation Yewtree, which was launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, also found a handwritten note in Harris's diary detailing how to delete material from his computer. He had written: "1) start button 2) control panel 3) internet options 4) press delete under heading below history, make sure all boxes ticked."

Harris's defence team argued that the models in the photographs were all over 18 according to identity documents provided by the owners of the websites. They also claimed he had only clicked on them by accident while browsing mainstream porn sites.

The judge was persuaded that the charges should be dealt with separately to the indecent assault claims, on the grounds that they would "infect the rest of the case".

At the time, the separation of the charges came as a setback for the prosecution. But in the end, they did enough to ensure a conviction without it. (© Independent News Service)

Independent News Service

Read More

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News