Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault

Entertainer dubbed 'The Octopus' because of his reputation for groping girls convicted of 12 counts involving victims as young as seven

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 11:10pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 3:46am

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris looks set to go to jail after being convicted of 12 counts of indecent assault.

Australian-born Harris, 84 - a TV presenter, artist and performer - was found guilty of all the charges against him after a six-week trial.

He assaulted four girls and young women aged from seven to 19 between 1968 and 1986, including his daughter Bindi's childhood best friend, a London jury found.

Harris' conviction represents a spectacular fall from grace for one of Britain's best-loved entertainers.

Known for his catchphrase "Can you tell what it is yet?" he painted Queen Elizabeth on her 80th birthday, hosted popular BBC television show Animal Hospital and performed at the Glastonbury music festival.

He was made a CBE in 2006 - one of the highest honours the queen can bestow.

Harris is the second person to be convicted under Operation Yewtree, the investigation set up in 2012 after it was revealed that the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile was a prolific sex offender.

He was released on bail and will be sentenced on Friday.

During the trial, prosecutors said Harris was a "Jekyll and Hyde" character who used his fame to abuse under-age girls with impunity.

When he took the witness stand, Harris turned on the charm that had enchanted millions of viewers, singing part of his hit Jake the Peg. But the mood changed when he was confronted with the allegations.

His daughter's friend said Harris assaulted her over several years, the first time when she was 13 and emerging from a shower on a trip to Hawaii. Harris said he was "sickened" by his behaviour but insisted he only began a physical relationship with the girl when she was an adult.

The star also admitted he was good at disguising his "dark side", but said he was simply a "touchy-feely" person.

Deputy chief crown prosecutor Jenny Hopkins said: "Rolf Harris used his status and position as a world famous children's entertainer to sexually assault young girls over a period spanning 18 years.

"The victims have suffered in silence for many years and have only recently found the courage to come forward. I would like to pay tribute to the bravery they displayed in coming to court and giving evidence.

"Each victim, unknown to the others, described a similar pattern of behaviour; that of a man acting without fear of the consequences."

Harris' reputation for groping was so widespread that he was dubbed "The Octopus" in TV circles in Australia.

His other victims included a seven-year-old autograph hunter he targeted on stage after performing his hit Two Little Boys in 1969. He also fondled a teenage waitress after crouching on all fours and barking at a dog during filming of ITV show Star Games in Cambridge in 1978.

Scotland Yard said they were investigating fresh allegations against Harris that had been made since the start of the trial.