Rolf Harris 'grateful for care and attention' of jury; may face retrial on four more sex charges

Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris has been cleared of three sex charges but could face a retrial on another four allegations.

A jury took just under a week to find the 86-year-old Australian not guilty of three of the seven alleged assaults said to have taken place over four decades, following a second trial at London's Southwark Crown Court.

He may be retried on four counts of indecent assault which the jurors were unable to decide on.

Judge Alistair McCreath discharged the seven women and five men of the jury, and a hearing will take place next Wednesday for the London court to hear if another trial will take place.

Rolf Harris. Photos: Laura Dale/PA Wire

Harris, wearing a pale blue shirt, suit and patterned tie, and using a hearing loop, showed no reaction as the not guilty verdicts were read out by the jury forewoman.

It took 26 hours and 16 minutes for the jury to clear Harris of two charges of indecent assault and one of sexual assault.

The panel found he was not guilty of indecently assaulting a young autograph hunter when she visited him at a radio station in Portsmouth with her mother at the end of the 1970s; not guilty of groping a blind and disabled woman at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London in 1977; and not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in her 40s after the filming of a TV show in 2004.

He is still in jail after a 2014 trial saw him convicted of 12 sex offences against four female victims, one as young as seven or eight.

His defence team claimed the jury in the first trial "got it wrong" and that the media coverage "without doubt made him vulnerable to people making accusations against him".

Stephen Vullo QC, defending, had asked the jury to consider whether the complainants had come forward simply to claim compensation.

A court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Rolf Harris at Southwark Crown Court in London

A number of complainants denied being motivated by possible financial gain, and said they were seeking justice.

Harris declined to give evidence at his second trial, silently watching proceedings first on video from Stafford prison and then from the dock.

Judge McCreath told Harris he would be remanded in custody for next week's hearing, which he must be present for but not necessarily in person, to which he replied: "Thank you."

He is accused of putting his hand up the skirt of a 14-year-old girl at a youth music event at London's Lyceum Theatre as she went to get an autograph in 1971.

Another alleged victim was a teenager helping on the TV programme Star Games in summer 1978, who claims he grabbed her breast and slid his hand between her legs until he made contact with her crotch over her jeans.

Harris also allegedly asked a 13-year-old girl, "Do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?" and slid his hand under her clothed breast after a children's TV show in 1983.

He is also accused of making a sexual comment while stroking the bare skin of a 19-year-old's lower back at a music studio near London Bridge in 2002.

Daniel Berke, the solicitor for Rolf Harris speaking outside Southwark Crown Court. Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Speaking outside court after the verdicts, Harris's solicitor Daniel Berke said: "Mr Harris is grateful for the care and attention this jury has given to his case and for the not guilty verdicts returned.

"Given the uncertainty as to what will now happen, no further comment can be made."

His defence team said Harris is expected to be automatically released from prison on July 19 for the sentence he is serving.

Criminal defence lawyer Kim Potts said the not guilty verdicts showed that, despite substantial publicity surrounding Harris's first conviction, the jury "carefully and faithfully considered the evidence presented and determined it was not sufficient to convict him".

The Corker Binning lawyer said: "Undoubtedly the jurors will have begun hearing the case having read about Mr Harris in the press following his previous trial. There is often great concern about whether a fair trial, in such circumstances, can be achieved.

"However, this verdict reinforces how capable our jurors are at performing their role - to try a person on the evidence they hear in court and only that."

More in this Section

Watch: Hundreds of Zenit St Petersburg fans welcome team bus with flare salute

Hillsborough pitch like ‘battleground’ after crush, victim’s mother tells court

Judge to consider lifting ban on naming 16-year-old killer of Alesha MacPhail

Vatican summit on sex abuse focuses on accountability


Live music review: Chvrches play a blinder at the Olympia

7 ways to manage toddler tantrums, according to an expert

Ask Audrey: 'I'm pretending to be from Monkstown, but I'm really just a wan from Turners Cross'

Six questions from a first-time viewer of MasterChef

More From The Irish Examiner