Rolf Harris trial delayed as lawyer unwell

JULIAN DRAPE
Last updated 03:13 12/06/2014

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The trial of Rolf Harris has been unexpectedly delayed just as it was drawing to a conclusion.

Defence lawyer Sonia Woodley QC was meant to make her closing speech on Wednesday (local time) but was too unwell to appear in court.

"Unhappily the position is she is unwell and not able to make her speech this afternoon," Justice Nigel Sweeney told the jury at Southwark Crown Court in London.

The judge sent the jurors home until Monday but said he couldn't guarantee Ms Woodley would be better by then.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC made her closing speech on Tuesday after five weeks of evidence.

She urged the jury in Harris's sex abuse trial to find the entertainer guilty on the basis that 10 alleged victims have given "chillingly similar accounts".

Ms Wass said indecent assault cases often relied on the word of one alleged victim against a perpetrator but with Harris many women had described his "deviant sexual behaviour".

"In this case it's the word of 10 independent victims, all who have given chillingly similar accounts of sexual abuse and exploitation by a man whose public image was pristine and lilywhite," Ms Wass said.

Harris is charged with assaulting four girls in the UK between 1968 and 1986.

Another six women have given supporting evidence that the artist abused them in Australia, New Zealand and Malta.

Harris denies inappropriately touching any of the alleged victims.

After the defence's closing speech Justice Sweeney will sum up the case before he asks the jury to retire and consider its verdict.

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- AAP

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