Tuesday 22 July 2014

Serial child abuser Rolf Harris likely to die in prison

Martin Evans

Published 01/07/2014|02:30

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Entertainer Rolf Harris leaves Southwark Crown Court in London June 30, 2014.
Entertainer Rolf Harris leaves Southwark Crown Court in London June 30, 2014.

Rolf Harris, who was convicted yesterday of being a serial sex attacker, faces the prospect of dying in prison.

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The 84-year-old, who was one of Britain's best-loved entertainers, was found guilty of 12 indecent assaults against four women, the youngest of who was aged seven at the time of the attack.

It can be revealed that the Australian-born singer and artist also assaulted a television celebrity as she interviewed him.

He groped the woman in front of a studio full of crew members in 1996.

The assault can be reported after Harris, who first found fame in the 1960s, was convicted of the sex offences at Southwark Crown Court in London. He will be sentenced for the attacks on Friday.

The entertainer, who became such a part of the British establishment that he was chosen to paint Queen Elizabeth's portrait to mark her 80th birthday, is also now likely to be stripped of his CBE.

He could also see further charges after it emerged that dozens more alleged victims have come forward during the trial.

Harris, who was reputed to have an £11m (13.7m) fortune, could also now face a string of compensation claims from his victims.

However, recent reports suggest that he may have taken steps to move assets out of his name, diminishing his apparent wealth.

Harris was found guilty of all charges by the jury at Southwark Crown Court, becoming the second person after Max Clifford to be convicted by the Metropolitan Police's Operation Yewtree.

The investigation was launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal to look at allegations of historic sex abuse.

But when news of his arrest was made public by the media, leading to more victims coming forward, there was widespread shock and disbelief that someone of his standing could be involved in child abuse.

Harris had dismissed the allegations against him as being fantasy, but the jury convicted him of all charges after eight days of deliberations.

Among those who made allegations against him was a well-known public figure who claimed he had fingered the elastic on her panties in front of a television crew.


The woman, who went to the police on May 9 this year, recalled how he ran his hand up her thigh towards her buttocks.

She said she had been extremely shocked by his actions but felt she was unable to confront him at the time.

During legal argument, not heard by the jury, Sasha Wass, prosecuting, said the woman's account was similar to many of the other victims' claims.

The claims can only be revealed today after the judge refused an application to have the woman included as a witness in the trial.

Supported by his wife Alwen Hughes and daughter Bindi throughout the trial, he showed no emotion as the verdicts were delivered.

The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, warned him he faced a custodial sentence, telling his lawyer: "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."

Several women in his native Australia have made fresh claims of abuse against him and Scotland Yard detectives have been liaising with them about the possibility of further charges.

Harris was convicted of groping one woman when she was seven or eight, another two as teenagers and a catalogue of abuse against his daughter's then best friend. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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