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Thursday 2 October 2014

Rolf Harris leaves home by boat for sentencing

Published 04/07/2014 | 08:38

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Unmasked paedophile Rolf Harris could face dying behind bars after he is sentenced today for a string of indecent assaults.

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According to Sky News, the entertainer left his home by boat shortly before 7am - his home backing on to the River Thames.

The shamed entertainer was found guilty of 12 counts at London's Southwark Crown Court on Monday in unanimous verdicts by a jury of six men and six women.

Harris, 84, from Bray in Berkshire, was convicted of nine assaults between 1968 and 1985 - one on a girl aged seven or eight, and the rest on teenagers between 14 and 19.

The law at the time put the punishment at a maximum of two years, or five years for victims under 13.

The remaining three guilty verdicts were for three counts of indecent assault on Tonya Lee, who has waived her right to anonymity, in 1986 when she was 15, when the maximum penalty had changed to 10 years.

Mr Justice Sweeney will have to pass a sentence taking into account all the offending, and may consider Harris's old age.

On Monday he warned the musician's legal team that he is likely to face prison.

The judge said: "In reality, given the conviction on all 12 counts, it is inevitable that the type of sentence that is uppermost in the court's mind is a custodial sentence and he must understand that."

The once-loved entertainer was finally exposed as a serial sex offender at the end of his trial on Monday, his hypocrisy brought into sharp relief by the fact he had funded and starred in an educational film warning children of the dangers of paedophiles.

Police are now looking into dozens more claims from alleged victims in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The charges Harris was convicted of concern one woman who was groped when she was just seven or eight and asked for his autograph, another two who fell prey as teenagers, and a catalogue of abuse against his daughter's then best friend.

During the trial, the court also heard from six other women who claim they were groped by Harris while abroad, including one who told the jury the artist forced his tongue in her mouth when she was 11 or 12.

She was off sick from school at a family friend's house in Australia in 1969, when Harris told her "I want to be the first person to introduce you to a tongue kiss", before he pounced.

Prosecutors also tried to use evidence from another seven women with similar accounts, including a celebrity who said she was groped on live TV, but this was deemed inadmissible.

Since his conviction, Harris, who has been stripped of his Bafta fellowship and faces losing his CBE, has also lost an honorary degree from the University of East London.

Questions have been raised over the future of his artwork, which includes a portrait of the Queen, and authorities in his native Western Australia are planning to remove tributes.

His multimillion-pound fortune could also be badly dented by legal costs and compensation claims.

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