Rolf Harris found guilty on 12 counts of indecent assault

Entertainment legend Rolf Harris has been found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault on four girls, the youngest of whom was seven or eight when he assaulted her.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court deliberated for almost 38 hours before reaching guilty verdicts on all 12 charges.

The BBC reports that Harris gave a slight nod as each of the verdicts was read out, but otherwise remained impassive.

The presiding judge Mr Justice Sweeney said a custodial sentence for the 84-year-old was ‘uppermost in the court’s mind’.

“He must understand that”, he said, to which Harris’s barrister Sonia Woodley replied: “He does appreciate that”.

The judge told the jury: “During the case you will have had to grapple with a side of life which I suspect you would prefer not to have had to grapple with.

“You have done so in the face of daily attention of large numbers of members of the media representing the public and observation of how you have conducted yourselves.”

He excused them from jury service for 10 years.

During the trial, the prosecution claimed that the much-loved painter, musician and TV presenter had a dark side and a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality.

One victim, Tonya Lee, who waived her right to anonymity, said of the assault that occurred when she was 15: “I was absolutely petrified, I wanted to scream but I didn’t. I knew that what he had done was wrong. I was embarrassed as well, but I didn’t want to tell anyone that he touched me.”

The assaults took place between 1968-1986 and ranged from inappropriate touching of a pre-pubescent girl at a book signing and fondling a teenage waitress’s bottom to indecently assaulting a friend of his daughter Bindi while she lay in bed in the same room as his daughter.

He admitted a relationship with the woman, but claimed it didn’t start until she was 18.

Outside the courtroom, Harris’s tearful daughter Bindi was seen walking the corridor with his wife, Alwen, and niece, Jenny, near where her father had been taken into a side room with his legal team.

During the trial, the court also heard from six other witnesses who claimed they had been groped by Harris, but were not part of the criminal charges.

The first claimed she was 11 or 12 when she was off sick from school at a family friend’s home in 1969, when Harris told her ‘I want to be the first person to introduce you to a tongue kiss’.

He then allegedly got her in ‘a gentle hug’ before sticking his tongue into her mouth.

A second, then aged 16 or 17, was waitressing at an event in New Zealand in 1970 when she claimed the entertainer put his hand on her bottom and between her legs.

She said: “I saw the dark side of a man who I thought could be trusted.”

The third supporting witness was aged 18 when she was on holiday in Malta in 1970 when her boyfriend cut his foot while swimming in the sea and Harris helped them to find a doctor.

She claimed that after she went back to thank the artist, he pinned her up against the wall in a back room in a bar, kissing and groping her.

Jurors also heard from a make-up artist who claimed Harris had groped her more than ‘two dozen’ times in a single day.

It was alleged that the entertainer repeatedly put his hands inside the freelancer’s baggy denim shorts as far as her hips while making a television programme in Australia in the mid-1980s.

The woman, then in her 20s, told the court that she later found out Harris’s nickname was ‘the octopus’.

She said she complained to her female supervisor: “That dirty old man groped me all day. I’m really p***ed off.”

A mother and daughter claimed that Harris targeted them both on the same day when they met him at a promotional event at a shop in Australia in 1991.

It was alleged that he first groped the 15-year-old daughter after insisting on giving her a hug, and then rubbed himself against her mother’s bottom as they had their photograph taken.

When the older woman challenged him, calling Harris ‘a disgusting creature’, he is claimed to have said: “She liked it”, referring to her daughter.

Meanwhile, the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children said it is ‘delighted’ to have helped to uncover ‘the dark side’ of Harris, who it says ‘hid behind his happy-go-lucky persona’.

Rolf Harris will be sentenced on Friday.

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