Former TV star Rolf Harris gets five years in prison for abusing girls

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 July, 2014, 1:43am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 July, 2014, 1:43am


Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris, a household name in Britain and Australia for decades, was yesterday jailed for five years and nine months by a judge in London for a string of sexual assaults against girls and young women.

The Australian-born television star, artist and songwriter, 84, was found guilty earlier this week of indecent assault against four victims between 1968 and 1986, including the best friend of his daughter Bindi.

"You have shown no remorse for your crimes at all," judge Nigel Sweeney told Harris as he handed down his sentence at London's Southwark Crown Court.

"Your reputation lies in ruins, you have been stripped of your honours, but you have no-one to blame but yourself."

Harris was the second person to be convicted under a wide-ranging police investigation set up after allegations that a fellow BBC television star, Jimmy Savile, was a prolific abuser.

The court had earlier heard statements from the victims in which one, Harris' daughter's childhood friend, said she had been traumatised by his abuse and made to feel "dirty, grubby and disgusting".

Another victim, who was abused when she was only eight as she went to get Harris' autograph, said that in those few moments her "childhood innocence was gone".

Harris' conviction on Monday caused widespread shock in Britain, where his television shows were watched by millions.

His stature was once so great that he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2006 - one of Britain's highest honours.

Reports suggest the entertainer, known for hit songs such as Two Little Boys and Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport, could now be stripped of his CBE and also may face further charges.

In sentencing, the judge described in graphic detail the 12 counts against Harris, who he said had taken advantage of the trust placed in him as a celebrity and as a father.

Seven of the counts relate to Bindi's friend, who said she was first abused when she was away on holiday with them in 1978, when Harris was 48 and she was just 13. He once assaulted her while his daughter was sleeping in the adjacent bed.

In her statement to the court, the woman said she blamed Harris for her alcoholism over many years and said the abuse left her a "quivering wreck".

Harris admitted having a sexual relationship with the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, but said it only began when she was an adult.

Prosecutors said on Friday they would not pursue allegations that Harris downloaded sexual images of children, saying that it was "no longer in the public interest".