The pain of the women who fell prey to convicted paedophile Rolf Harris was laid bare as he was told he will serve just under three years in prison for a string of sex crimes.
As the shamed entertainer, unmasked as a predator who was fixated with underage girls, was sentenced at London’s Southwark Crown Court, statements from the four girls he targeted over decades detailed their ordeals.
The court heard how Harris’ sordid 16-year campaign of sex abuse against his daughter’s friend “haunted” her and made her abandon her dreams as he continued to be adored by millions of fans worldwide.
Jailing Harris for five years and nine months, of which he will serve half, Mr Justice Sweeney said: “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.”
Britain’s attorney general’s office confirmed that the sentence has already been referred on the grounds that it is “unduly lenient”.
Harris was jailed for a total of 12 indecent assaults — one on an eight-year-old autograph-hunter, two on girls in their early teens and a catalogue of sordid abuse of his daughter’s friend over 16 years.
The woman, who was once best friends with his daughter Bindi, said: “The attacks that happened have made me feel dirty, grubby and disgusting. The whole sordid saga has traumatised me.”
She fell into alcoholism and abandoned any aspirations to live a normal life.
“As a young girl I had aspirations to have a career, settle down and have a family,” the woman 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.”
The statement went on: “Rolf Harris had a hold over me that made me a quivering wreck.”
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. She said: “I have never felt safe since; I live in a constant state of anxiety.”
Harris’ youngest victim, who was indecently assaulted as she went to get his autograph when she was eight, said the moment was her first taste of independence, but in those few moments her “childhood innocence was gone”.
She said: “I carried what Rolf Harris did to me for most of my life; it took away my childhood.”
A fourth victim who was groped at a celebrity event in Cambridge when she was a teenager, said Harris “treated me like a toy”.
The once-loved entertainer was exposed as a serial sex offender at the end of his trial on Monday, his hypocrisy brought into sharp focus by the fact he had funded and starred in an educational film warning children of the dangers of paedophiles.
In mitigation, Harris’s QC Sonia Woodley said Harris was already living on “borrowed time” and had been punished away from the court by being publicly shamed.
Harris, who had travelled from his Berkshire home by boat to learn his fate, sat in the glass-walled dock with a striped suitcase by his side and remained impassive as sentence was passed, with daughter Bindi watching from the public gallery.
His frail wife Alwen did not come to court, although she has attended much of the trial.
Passing sentence in a packed courtroom, Mr Justice Sweeney 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. 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.”
The judge told the court he did not feel it was appropriate to order Harris to pay compensation to his victims, but his multi-million pound fortune remains at risk.
Harris’ jail term has already been referred to Britain’s attorney general for being “unduly lenient” after concerns were raised by a small number of members of the public.
A spokesman for the attorney general said: “I can confirm that the sentence handed to Rolf Harris today has been referred to the attorney general’s office under the unduly lenient sentence scheme.
“It only takes one person to trigger the process, and there is a strict 28-day time period, which means the law officers have until Friday, August 1, to consider whether they wish to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal.”
Fallen star to avoid trial over images
Paedophile Rolf Harris will not stand trial over allegations that he downloaded sexual images of children, prosecutors say.
Harris allegedly downloaded appalling images from websites offering picture of ‘little girlies’ and ‘tiny girlfriends’.
The 84-year-old was given a small reprieve as it was confirmed that he will not face a second trial.
The pictures were discovered when officers from Operation Yewtree searched a computer at his home.
Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC told Southwark Crown Court: “In the light of the 12 unanimous convictions, the Crown Prosecution Service has decided that it is no longer in the public interest to proceed with a trial on these four charges.”
Prosecutors had claimed the 84-year-old had 33 sexual photographs of children in a much larger collection of thousands of adult pornographic images.
But Harris’s legal team told Mr Justice Sweeney that the models in the photographs were over 18, and they also maintained that Harris accidentally accessed the images when he clicked on links from mainstream porn sites.
Harris also allegedly clicked on other words, including “youngest teen porn”, “my little nieces” and “young teen girls”.
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