Rolf Harris a 'sinister pervert', jury told

NICK MILLER
Last updated 07:03 11/06/2014
ROLF HARRIS
Reuters

ACCUSED: Rolf Harris denies 12 charges of indecent assault against four girls.

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Rolf Harris was a "sinister pervert" with a "demon lurking beneath his charming exterior" who considered underage girls as sexual objects, prosecutor Sasha Wass, QC, has told a London jury in summing up her case against the 84 year-old Australian entertainer.

The evidence "paints a picture of a man who believed he was untouchable because he was so famous", Wass said.

"It paints a picture of a man arrogant, brazen, who treated women and young girls as sexual objects to be groped and mauled whenever he felt like it."

But this "Mr Hyde" was hidden behind a "Dr Jekyll" - his charming public profile as a loveable children's entertainer,  Wass said.

Harris has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecently assaulting four girls between 1968 and 1986.

The Southwark Crown Court also heard from six other witnesses who said they experienced or witnessed a sexual assault by Harris.

Since the first complainant came forward in 2012 police had uncovered more and more women who felt able to describe what happened to them as young and vulnerable girls, Ms Wass said.

Unknown to each other, from "one end of the world to the other" they had described a similar pattern of "deviant behaviour", Wass said - the chance that they had all made up such similar accounts was "absurd".

Harris had a "routine", she said, using his celebrity status to beguile his victims, targeting "innocent, young, admiring fans mesmerised by his fame and talent".

"Their evidence has been compelling. They are clearly telling the truth," she said.

Neither the passage of time since the alleged offences, nor Harris' fame and talent should allow him to get away with his actions, which he concealed from his family, his friends and his fans.

Even Harris himself had agreed a dark side lurked beneath a charming exterior, Wass said.

She went through the evidence of six "bad character" witnesses, each of whom had alleged sexual assaults by Harris over more than two decades.

Wass described the "confidence" in the witness box of makeup artist 'SD' who said Harris had groped her in a Channel Seven studio.

She said Harris' defence - that he was allergic to makeup powder - was just one of "several bizarre diversions that Mr Harris has thrown in the pot" in an attempt to distract from the accusations against him.

SD had described the "octopus hands" that had led to Harris developing a reputation for such behaviour.

"Mr Harris didn't believe he could be challenged."

The mother and daughter pair of JH and SA had described an encounter in a hardware store near Newcastle where "just like an octopus Mr Harris' hands were all over the place".

He used an innocent gesture, a big enveloping bear hug, as a pretext to get close to his victim. "You will see this was used over and over again," Wass said. He saw females of all ages as "objects to be taken advantage of when trapped and unable to get away".

After a sudden, swift sexual assault he then carried on as if nothing had happened.

It was particularly shocking to his victims because his public image was warm and child-friendly, Wass said.

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Justice Sweeney told the jury at Southwark Crown Court they would hear the summing up from the defence case on Wednesday (Thursday NZT), he would sum up the evidence and the law to them on Monday, and they would likely retire to consider their verdict on Tuesday.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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