Wednesday 21 February 2018

Rolf Harris trial: Accuser showed 'no sign of abuse' in diaries, court told

Veteran Australian entertainer Rolf Harris
Veteran Australian entertainer Rolf Harris

THE diary of a woman who claims she was sexually abused by Rolf Harris at the age of 13 showed "no hint of unhappiness", with her saying she had a "great" day with the entertainer and his family, a court has heard.

Under cross-examination at Southwark Crown Court today, the alleged victim was taken through diary entries from the trip to Hawaii in 1978, where she spent two full days.

She claims that Harris, 84, touched her intimately during the trip, and went on to abuse her for a number of years.

The woman is named on seven of the 12 counts of indecent assault that veteran entertainer Harris faces, all of which he denies.

Defending, Sonia Woodley QC asked her: "No mention in the diary or any hint of anything which had happened to you at the hands of Rolf Harris, is there?"

She replied: "I wouldn't have put it in the diary."

The woman went on: "I would have made it sound better in the diary."

When asked: "Was that a happy holiday for you?", she replied: "Basically, yes it was."

Her entry for the first full day there, December 20, said: "Today was great because we went on the beach and went swimming."

Ms Woodley said that there was "no hint of unhappiness" in the notes, and put it to the woman that she could be "stubborn, wilful and argumentative" as a teenager.

She cited a phase when the woman refused to eat anything other than Marmite on toast and roast dinners, and the court heard that she ticked off items in the Harrods catalogue that she wanted for Christmas from her parents.

The alleged victim, who was a friend of Harris' daughter Bindi, denied that she would tell her mother to "f*** off" or "piss off", and swear at Bindi and throw books at her if she woke her up early.

Ms Woodley said: "If Bindi had woken up early and started talking to you, you would be very grumpy and start swearing at her."

The woman told the jury: "I was not good in the mornings. I wouldn't swear at her, I would just be grumpy. I wouldn't throw a book at her head, I would throw a pillow."

The woman said that despite thinking Harris was "creepy", she wanted to go on the holiday to be with Bindi.

Harris, wearing a light grey suit with a white shirt and dark tie, listened to her evidence with the aid of a hearing loop, at times reading court documents.

Ms Woodley asked the woman: "Your mother apparently told you never to trust a man with a beard?"

"Yes," she replied.

"Did you ask her why she said that?",the barrister asked.

The woman said: "No."

Ms Woodley went on: "Rolf Harris never said anything to make you scared of him did he?" She answered: "It was just his presence."

The woman has claimed that the first time Harris assaulted her was when she had just got out of the shower in Hawaii.

Ms Woodley asked how the entertainer would have got into the girl's room, and told the woman: "I suggest that nothing of that nature happened at all."

She suggested that it was Bindi, and not Rolf Harris, who had taken a picture of the alleged victim while she appeared to be asleep.

Asked about a second alleged assault on the beach in Hawaii, the woman said that although Bindi and Harris's wife Alwen were just a few feet away they would not have noticed she was upset because she "didn't show it".

The woman has also claimed that Harris abused her later in the holiday as she returned from sunbathing on a jetty.

Ms Woodley suggested to the alleged victim - who is giving evidence from behind a curtain - that it could not be correct because sun only shone on the jetty until 10am.

The barrister said: "What I suggest is that nothing of any kind happened between you and Rolf Harris, as you described."

The court heard that the woman had visited a friend of her father's during the holiday, and had ended up needing medical treatment for blisters after not wearing sunscreen.

The woman denied suggestions that she had ignored advice to wear suncream, saying: "I wasn't reluctant, I just wasn't aware."

Ms Woodley suggested to her that a picture she claimed was taken when she had just woken up was in fact a posed picture that Harris had taken of her, at the same time he was taking pictures of his daughter Bindi.

The woman said she did not remember an occasion where she and Bindi were said to have "experimented" with gin, leaving the latter so ill that she never touched the spirit again.

Ms Woodley asked her: "There had been a bit of a problem with alcohol in your family hadn't there? Your grandfather had been an alcoholic and in November 1996 you told a nurse that your father had drunk heavily until he had had a medical problem."

The woman said: "He drank a gin and tonic when he got in from work and wine in the evenings with his meal."

Yesterday the alleged victim told the court that she started drinking in her early teens, and would drink gin to help control panic attacks and anxiety if she knew she was likely to see Harris.

She told the court today that her parents had not noticed that the gin in their house was being drunk, and claimed she also went to the off-licence to buy her own, using her pocket money.

She also said she had hidden the symptoms of her panic attacks, such as sweating and shaking, so nobody would know.

Ms Woodley told the court that in 1980 the alleged victim was struggling at school, and was spending a lot of time off due to problems with her tonsils, so had fallen behind.

So when the Harrises moved further away from her family in December that year, she was "devastated", Ms Woodley suggested to the woman.

Asking why she did not try to avoid Harris if she knew he and his wife were coming to visit, the woman said: "Because I wanted to see Alwen."

Ms Woodley asked: "So although you were really frightened of this man and scared of him, you were still prepared to stay there just to see Alwen?", to which she replied: "Yes."

The defence barrister also questioned how the woman could apparently remember which hand Harris had touched her with, saying: "How can you remember all these years later whether it was a left or right hand?" The woman said: "I just do."

Ms Woodley questioned the woman over whether she had visited the Harris home in Bray before or after she was 16. The barrister asked: "I suggest you didn't go there until after you were 16."

The woman replied: "No."

Ms Woodley asked: "I don't suppose you can remember, can you, times and dates?"

"No, I can't," the alleged victim said.

The barrister said: "It's quite possible that you didn't go there until after you were 16?"

"Quite possible," the woman replied.

The jury of six men and six women heard that Harris's daughter Bindi did not wake up as he allegedly performed oral sex on the woman as she slept in the same room.

The woman said she was silently crying after the claimed abuse and Bindi did not hear anything.

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