Rolf Harris.
Rolf Harris. INM

Rolf Harris jail term to be reviewed after complaints

ROLF Harris has been sentenced to five years and nine months in prison in a court for a string of indecent assaults.

Judge Mr Justice Sweeny said the entertainer had shown no remorse as he sentenced the 84-year-old at Southwark Crown Court for 12 counts of indecent assault.

The office of the Attorney General has now confirmed his prison sentence has been referred under the "unduly lenient sentence scheme".

A spokesman for the Attorney General's office told the BBC it "only takes one person to trigger the process", and the sentence must be considered within 28 days for possible referral to the Court of Appeal.

In his remarks, the judge said the musician had been a star for over 50 years and is no longer in the best of health, but the verdicts of the jury showed he was "also a sex offender" between 1968 and 1986, whose "reputation lies in ruins".

He said Harris took advantage of the trust placed in him through his celebrity status, adding: "You clearly got a thrill from committing offences while others were nearby."

Harris had shown "no remorse at all" throughout the trial, he continued, telling him: "You have nobody to blame but yourself".

Harris remained emotionless in the dock as he listened to the judge's remarks via a court hearing loop.

Ahead of sentencing, the court heard of the damaging effects the abuse had on his victims, with the former friend of his daughter Bindi describing how the attacks made her feel "dirty, grubby and disgusting", and led to her developing a drinking habit at an early age.

"As a young girl I had aspirations to have a career, settle down and have a family," she said.

"However, as a direct result of his actions, this has never materialised.

"The knowledge of what he had done to me haunted me. However, his popularity with the British public made it harder for me to deal with."

COMMENT: Rolf Harris' shocking crimes robbed us all

Another victim, who was assaulted by Harris when she visited England as a teenager, said the incident was a "turning point" in her life that she had never recovered from.

In her Victim Impact Statement, she said: "I have never felt safe since, I life in a constant state of anxiety."

Harris, from Bray in Berkshire, was convicted of nine assaults between 1968 and 1985 - one on a girl aged seven or eight, and the rest on teenagers aged between 14 and 19.

His youngest victim, who Harris indecently assaulted as she went to get his autograph at a community centre as a young girl, said the moment was her first taste of independence, but in those few moments her "childhood innocence was gone".

She said she became an angry and confused child, unable to express herself and unable to trust men, adding: "I carried what Rolf Harris did to me for most of my life, it took away my childhood."

A fourth victim, who was assaulted when she was a teenager as Harris took part in a celebrity game show in Cambridge in the 1970s, said he took advantage of her, making her feel ashamed. She said: "He treated me like a toy that he had played with for his own pleasure."

In mitigation, Sonia Woodley QC had argued Harris had led an "upright life" for the last two decades, outlining his charitable acts, and said he needed to be with his family in the "twilight years" of his life.

Ms Woodley said that apart from the abuse of his daughter Bindi's friend - which seven of the 12 counts related to - Harris's assaults had been "opportunistic rather than predatory".

Harris browsed websites featuring girls as young as 13

The Independent earlier has revealed claims that Harris browsed websites featuring girls as young as 13 and took notes on how to delete his internet history were never heard by the jury who this week convicted him.

Prosecutors were due to claim that the 84-year-old entertainer, who was sentenced around 10pm Australian time, accessed websites with names such as "My little nieces", "Tiny teen girlfriends" and "Russian girlfriends".

Harris was charged with four counts of accessing indecent images by police, but never entered pleas as his defence team successfully persuaded the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, to separate them off from the main trial.

Today, prosecutor Sasha Wass QC told Southwark Crown Court that the Crown Prosecution Service had since decided that it was "no longer in the public interest" to pursue a second trial on the outstanding charges "in the light of the 12 unanimous convictions on the counts that Mr Harris faced".

The court previously heard how police searching Harris's home in Bray, Berkshire in 2012 had discovered a stash of adult images on his desktop computer, 33 of which appeared to be of children including one under the age of 13.

They also found a hand written notes in Harris's diary detailing how to delete material from his computer. He had written: "1) start button 2) control panel 3) internet options 4) press delete under heading below history, make sure all boxes ticked."

Harris's defence team argued that the models in the photographs were all over 18 according to identity documents provided by the Ukrainian owners of the websites which featured them. They also claimed he had only clicked on them by accident while browsing mainstream porn sites.

Earlier this morning Harris was seen leaving his riverside home, where he has been living on bail since his conviction on Monday, by boat. He arrived at court wearing a grey suit, white shirt and multicoloured tie, supported by his daughter Bindi.

During proceedings he sat in the glass dock flanked by a single security guard, listening impassively through a hearing loop headset.

In mitigation, his lawyer Sonia Woodley QC said his sexual liaisons with underage girls had been "brief" and "opportunistic rather than predatory". She added that during his trial he had received two bags of cards from well-wishers and enough letters of support to fill three lever-arch files.

The court also heard that Harris was suffering from "ill health", although no details were given. The judge said: "Given his ill health the effects of a prison sentence will be all the greater."

The court also heard extracts from victim impact statements by the four women Harris has been convicted of abusing.

One victim, who was a former friend of Harris's daughter Bindi, said: "The attacks that happened have made me feel dirty, grubby and disgusting. The whole sordid saga has traumatised me."

She added that the abuse had affected hear throughout her life and that she had turned to alcohol to escape.

"As a young girl I had aspirations to have a career, settle down and have a family," she said.

"However, as a direct result of his actions, this has never materialised. The knowledge of what he had done to me haunted me. However, his popularity with the British public made it harder for me to deal with."

Another victim, who was assaulted by Harris when she visited England as a teenager, said the incident was a "turning point" in her life from which she had never recovered. "I have never felt safe since, I live life in a constant state of anxiety," she said.

Rolf Harris leaves house by boat to be sentenced

ROLF Harris is due to appear in court today to be sentenced today for a string of indecent assaults.

He left his Berkshire home, which backs on to the River Thames, by boat shortly after 7am as he made his way to court for sentencing, ITV reported.

The disgraced entertainer was found guilty of 12 counts at London's Southwark Crown Court on Monday in unanimous verdicts by a jury of six men and six women.

Harris, 84, from Bray in Berkshire, was convicted of nine assaults between 1968 and 1985 - one on a girl aged seven or eight, and the rest on teenagers between 14 and 19.

The remaining three guilty verdicts were for three counts of indecent assault on Tonya Lee, who has waived her right to anonymity, in 1986 when she was 15, when the maximum penalty had changed to 10 years.

The judge has warned the musician's legal team that he is likely to face prison.

The judge said: "In reality, given the conviction on all 12 counts, it is inevitable that the type of sentence that is uppermost in the court's mind is a custodial sentence and he must understand that."

Police are now looking into dozens more claims from alleged victims in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The charges Harris was convicted of concern one woman who was groped when she was just seven or eight and asked for his autograph, two teenage girls, and a catalogue of abuse against his daughter's then best friend.

During the trial, the court also heard from six other women who claim they were groped by Harris while abroad in Australia, New Zealand and Malta. He could not be prosecuted over these alleged incidents in a British court.

Prosecutors also tried to use evidence from another seven women with similar accounts, including a celebrity who said she was groped on live TV, but this was deemed inadmissible.

Since his conviction, Harris, who has been stripped of his Bafta fellowship and faces losing his CBE, has also lost an honorary degree from the University of East London.

Questions have been raised over the future of his artwork, which includes a portrait of the Queen, and authorities in his native Western Australia are planning to remove tributes.

His multimillion-pound fortune could also be badly dented by legal costs and compensation claims.

Additional reporting by Press Association



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