Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris biography

The four counts of making indecent images were related to the Protection of Children Act 1978, which interprets viewing images on a computer as making images. The charges were brought after detectives examined Harris's computer and found 33 images of possibly underage models amongst thousands of adult pornographic images. Harris never entered a plea on the charges, as his lawyers argued successfully that the charges should be severed from the 12 sexual assault charges and tried separately. In the aftermath of Harris's conviction, it was reported that his legal team had obtained the identity documents of the models involved, confirming they were adults over 18. The websites Harris had visited, according to the Internet Watch Foundation, are not known for illegal images of children. The prosecution informed the court that they would not be proceeding with the indecent images charges.

Trial

The trial of Harris began on 6 May 2014 at Southwark Crown Court. Seven of the twelve charges involved allegations of a sexual relationship between Harris and one of his daughter's friends. Six charges related to when she was between the ages of 13 and 15, and one when she was 19. Harris denied that he had entered into a sexual relationship with the girl until she was 18. During the trial, a letter Harris had written to the girl's father in 1997 after the end of the relationship was shown in court, saying: "I fondly imagined that everything that had taken place had progressed from a feeling of love and friendship - there was no rape, no physical forcing, brutality or beating that took place."

One charge was that he sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl who asked for his autograph at a community centre in Hampshire in 1968 or 1969. When questioned by police about this allegation, Harris replied "I would simply never touch a child inappropriately." He denied that he had visited Cambridge until four years before the trial, but television archive material was produced in court showing that he had taken part in an episode of the ITV show Star Games, which had been filmed in Cambridge in 1978. Harris denied that he had told a deliberate lie and said that his failure to remember the show was a "a lapse of memory." Additional witnesses from Malta, New Zealand, and Australia were called to testify against Harris, although these charges could not be pursued in the British courts.

Conviction and imprisonment

After several delays in the trial, where the judge's summing-up took three days, the jury retired to consider its verdict on 19 June. On 30 June, Harris was found guilty of all 12 counts of indecent assault.

On 4 July Harris was sentenced to a total of five years and nine months in prison for the offences. Passing sentence, Judge Mr Justice Sweeney said "You have shown no remorse for your crimes at all. Your reputation now lies in ruins, you have been stripped of your honours but you have no one to blame but yourself." Some sentences were expected to run consecutively, and Harris was expected to serve half of the total time in prison. He was told he must pay prosecution costs, though not compensation to the victims. The sentence was referred to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve after complaints that it was too lenient. On 30 July 2014, the new Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, announced that he would not be referring the sentence to the court of appeal for review "as he did not think they would find it to be unduly lenient and increase it. The sentencing judge was bound by the maximum sentence in force at the time of the offending." On 1 August 2014, the Judicial Office said that Harris had applied to appeal against his conviction and that his lawyers had lodged papers at the Court of Appeal.


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