Rolf Harris has been sentenced to five years and nine months in prison following his conviction for 12 indecent assaults against girls.
The 84-year-old entertainer was sentenced around 1pm at Southwark Crown Court in London.
The once deeply loved musician, comic and artist committed the assaults between 1968 and 1986 on girls as young as seven. Although his convictions related to the testimony of four victims, it’s thought that the abuse went further. The court heard evidence from women in Malta and New Zealand who allege Harris also indecently assaulted them.
Mr Justice Sweeney told the shamed performer: “You have shown no remorse for your crimes at all. Your reputation lies in ruins, you have been stripped of your honours, but you have no one to blame but yourself.”
Harris was unanimously found guilty of molesting four girls – one woman who was just seven or eight and was groped when she asked for his autograph, and another two who fell prey as young teenagers.
The veteran presenter, who charmed television audiences for decades, was also convicted of a catalogue of abuse against his daughter’s then-best friend, who prosecutors said Harris groomed from the age of 13 and used like ‘his little toy’.
The accusations dated between 1968 and 1986, and the girls were targeted between the ages of seven or eight and 19.
Harris, who earlier travelled from his Berkshire home by boat, sat in the glass-walled dock with a striped suitcase by his side remained impassive as sentence was passed, with daughter Bindi watching from the gallery.
His frail wife Alwen did not come to court today, although she has attended much of the trial.
Passing sentence in a packed courtroom, the judge told Harris: “For well over 50 years you have been a popular entertainer and TV personality of international standing with a speciality in children’s entertainment. You are also an artist of renown. You have been the recipient of a number of honours and awards over the years, you have done many good and charitable works and numerous people have attested to your positive good character.
“But the verdicts of the jury show that in the period from 1969 to 1986 you were also a sex offender, committing 12 indecent assaults on four victims who were variously aged between eight and 19 at the time.
“There were a number of aggravating features. You took advantage of the trust placed in you because of your celebrity status to commit the offences against three of the victims.
“All your offences in relation to (Bindi’s friend) were committed in breach of the trust that her parents had placed in you and two of them took place in her own home.
“In every case the age gap between you and the victim was a very considerable one. You clearly got a thrill from committing the offences while others were present or nearby. Whilst others did not realise what you were doing their presence added to the ordeal of your victims.”
Mr Justice Sweeney told the entertainer: “Rolf Harris, the sentence I pass upon you in total is one of five years and nine months imprisonment.
“Unless released earlier, you will serve half that sentence when you will be released on licence for the remainder of your sentence.
“Should you break the terms of that licence, including by commission of further offences, you will be liable to recall.”
The judge told the court he did not feel it was appropriate to order Harris to pay compensation to his victims, but said: “You will, however, pay the costs of the prosecution in such sum as may be agreed or assessed in due course.”
The Telegraph reports that it was revealed in court for the first time today that Harris had downloaded appalling images of child abuse from websites. The Crown Prosecution Service had intended to prosecute him for these offences, but would no longer pursue this following his sentencing for the indecent assaults.
Detectives found 33 images of boys and girls on Harris’s computer, images which had been viewed regularly.
At a hearing not before the jury, Sasha Wass QC, prosecuting, told the court: “The underlying material relates to the purported ages of several girls on pornographic websites found on the defendant’s computer.
“A lot of the girls hail from Ukraine and Eastern European countries associated through trafficking.”
She added: “Some of the images were looked at over and over and over again.”
Referring to the fact he had tried to delete his browsing history Ms Wass said: “This indicates that the defendant was very anxious to delete the particular material which is subject to the counts on the indictment.”