Sydenham's Rolf Harris jailed for sex offences - sentence slammed as 'unduly lenient'

Sydenham's Rolf Harris faces prison sentence

Sydenham's Rolf Harris faces prison sentence

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Rolf Harris faces spending the rest of his life behind bars after he was jailed for five years and nine months for a string of sex crimes involving four girls.

The 84-year-old entertainer, a family favourite for decades, was finally unmasked as a prolific paedophile with his conviction for 12 indecent assaults on Monday.

Today at London's Southwark Crown Court 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, lived in Sydenham during the 1960s and 1970s when some of the crimes took place. He was also an early member of the Sydenham Society when he lived in Border Road.

Harris was also convicted of a catalogue of abuse against his daughter's then-best friend, who lived near the family's Sydenham home, 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 Bray 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.

Harris had a small reprieve this morning as prosecutors confirmed he will not stand trial over allegations that he downloaded sexual images of children.

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."

Peter Watt, director of national services at the NSPCC, said: "Harris was opportunistic and brazen in targeting young girls and women. He took advantage of their trust in him and we heard through the evidence of his courageous victims just how profoundly damaging his abuse was on them for decades after.

"This sentence reflects the seriousness of his crimes and hopefully those he preyed upon can finally find some peace. It sends a message that no one is untouchable and justice can come at any time.

"Harris has not shown any remorse for what he has done and treated the whole court case like just another performance. Thankfully the jury saw through this charade and he will now have a considerable amount of time to reflect on the impact of his crimes."

Bindi, Harris's niece Jenny Harris and his long term agent Jan Kennedy left the court building looking grim faced shortly before 2.30pm.

They faced a pack of waiting international media flanked by security guards, who pushed through the scrum to usher them in to a waiting car.

Speaking outside court, a representative of the youngest victim, who was abused at the age of eight by Harris as she got his autograph near Portsmouth, said: "(She) had only eight years of her life without this incident going round in her head and that was her first eight years.

"After these cameras have been dismantled and the media circus has rolled on to another town it will still be with her as it will be with the other girls.

"In due time (she) will eventually share her story and experiences through the proper channels with a view to helping other children who have suffered at the hands of adults whether they are on the telly or sitting beside them watching it.

"Hopefully that way some good can be brought from this sad case."

Harris's jail term has already been referred to the Attorney General for being "unduly lenient" after concerns were raised by a small number of members of the public.

It only takes one person to make contact for the the top lawyer to consider the punishment.

Dominic Grieve now has 28 days to decide whether any action should be taken.

Comments (7)

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6:16pm Fri 4 Jul 14

Bevangirl says...

I agree that Rolf Harris should be punished for the offences he committed but the woman who was so badly affected didn't mind going on holiday with the family and staying in their home. If someone had spoken out then, perhaps Mr Harris could have had some sort of treatment for his perversion. It seems to me that you can kill a baby or murder someone in a hit and run accident and just get a couple of years for it.
I agree that Rolf Harris should be punished for the offences he committed but the woman who was so badly affected didn't mind going on holiday with the family and staying in their home. If someone had spoken out then, perhaps Mr Harris could have had some sort of treatment for his perversion. It seems to me that you can kill a baby or murder someone in a hit and run accident and just get a couple of years for it. Bevangirl
  • Score: 35

10:08pm Fri 4 Jul 14

Harold_Monk says...

Let's face it. Whatever sentence they gave him, he ain't coming out alive
Let's face it. Whatever sentence they gave him, he ain't coming out alive Harold_Monk
  • Score: 5

10:39pm Fri 4 Jul 14

flea_in_ear says...

Never mind all this. What about the paedophile papers handed to Leon Britten, now missing, Home Office cannot trace it, and the MP who passed it on promptly had his home burgled "professionally"?

There is no point in a longer sentence for Rolf Harris.

And does anyone else feel just a bit concerned about all the people only now coming forward? A percentage of them are only going to be after money. Some may be unbalanced and believe that the things they hear other people say actually happened to them.

Whilst Rolf Harris and various disc jockeys are pursued, very convenient that people such as Cyril Smith were carefully wrapped in cottonwool by those around them.
Never mind all this. What about the paedophile papers handed to Leon Britten, now missing, Home Office cannot trace it, and the MP who passed it on promptly had his home burgled "professionally"? There is no point in a longer sentence for Rolf Harris. And does anyone else feel just a bit concerned about all the people only now coming forward? A percentage of them are only going to be after money. Some may be unbalanced and believe that the things they hear other people say actually happened to them. Whilst Rolf Harris and various disc jockeys are pursued, very convenient that people such as Cyril Smith were carefully wrapped in cottonwool by those around them. flea_in_ear
  • Score: 26

6:15am Sat 5 Jul 14

flea_in_ear says...

Look at the number of politicians potentially involved - probably in far worse activities http://www.telegraph
.co.uk/news/uknews/c
rime/10947561/More-t
han-10-politicians-o
n-list-held-by-polic
e-investigating-West
minster-paedophile-r
ing.html
Look at the number of politicians potentially involved - probably in far worse activities http://www.telegraph .co.uk/news/uknews/c rime/10947561/More-t han-10-politicians-o n-list-held-by-polic e-investigating-West minster-paedophile-r ing.html flea_in_ear
  • Score: 7

1:17pm Sat 5 Jul 14

TheTrueVoiceofTruth says...

A fair trial was not possible so long after the event however...

It may not, to some, seem related but why has the NewsShopper not reported the cautioning for theft of a Homeless Bulgarian on 22nd May 2014. The coincidence and irony of that date will surely not escape even the witless Lewisham reporter. The same Bulgarian has a long history of crime dating back to 1999 and that includes car theft, for which he was sentenced to prison. This is most certainly newsworthy.

Could this criminal have been rather too useful in an attempt to blacken the name of an upstanding local citizen?
A fair trial was not possible so long after the event however... It may not, to some, seem related but why has the NewsShopper not reported the cautioning for theft of a Homeless Bulgarian on 22nd May 2014. The coincidence and irony of that date will surely not escape even the witless Lewisham reporter. The same Bulgarian has a long history of crime dating back to 1999 and that includes car theft, for which he was sentenced to prison. This is most certainly newsworthy. Could this criminal have been rather too useful in an attempt to blacken the name of an upstanding local citizen? TheTrueVoiceofTruth
  • Score: 20

6:15pm Sun 6 Jul 14

Bevangirl says...

I agree with flee-in-ear; there seems to be an epidemic of people coming forward now, including well known people such as Vanessa Feltz. All done for either publicity or the money!!
I agree with flee-in-ear; there seems to be an epidemic of people coming forward now, including well known people such as Vanessa Feltz. All done for either publicity or the money!! Bevangirl
  • Score: 26

12:16pm Mon 7 Jul 14

Gypo.Joe says...

What a perv he must be sticking his grubby hands up Vanessa Feltz drawers. ( allegedly )

Kosher flaps ?
What a perv he must be sticking his grubby hands up Vanessa Feltz drawers. ( allegedly ) Kosher flaps ? Gypo.Joe
  • Score: -20

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