Rolf Harris jury retires

Last updated 23:21 19/06/2014
ROLF HARRIS
Reuters

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

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The jury has retired to consider its verdict in entertainer Rolf Harris’ sexual assault trial.

Harris, 84, has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecently assaulting four girls between 1968 and 1986.

Mr Justice Nigel Sweeney spent more than two days summarising the evidence in the case and outlining the law for the 12 jury members.

During his summing up Mr Justice Sweeney told the jury to use their experience to “see the wood for the trees and recognise a red herring when you see one”.

There was no burden on Harris “to prove anything at all”, he said. “The prosecution must make you feel sure of guilt.”

To be sure of sexual assault they must be sure that Harris touched the complainant in an indecent manner, and without their consent if they were not under 16 at the time.

Mr Justice Sweeney said the prosecution case in a nutshell was that the accounts of the complainants and other witnesses were “tellingly similar” and there was no reason that any, let alone all of them would have lied.

The defence case “relies strongly on (Harris’) good character”, and was that his accusers had lied – all except one, who may have been mistaken as to the identity of her attacker.

On Thursday Mr Justice Sweeney said the jury should listen to each other's views as they worked towards their verdict.

"You must not feel under any pressure of time," he said.

The six men and six women then gathered their papers and left the courtroom at 12.15pm, London time, with around four hours of work before them until they would be sent home. 

On Monday defence counsel Simon Ray said prosecutors had “trashed” Harris’ reputation, but had fallen a long way short of proving him guilty of sexual assault.

Ray said Harris, despite his shame and embarrassment over an adult affair with one of the complainants, should be believed when he denied assaulting any of his accusers.

He had entered into a “sporadic, illicit, somewhat low-rent adult relationship” with the complainant, but “that doesn’t make him a criminal”.

There were "awkward and uncomfortable" omissions in the case against Harris that created "unavoidable doubt" about the entertainer's guilt, such as the lack of corroborating evidence that Harris was present in the places and times that his accusers claimed.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC told the jury last week Harris was a “sinister pervert who had a demon lurking beneath the charming exterior”.

Wass said the prosecution’s evidence was like one of Harris’ own paintings: “Each stroke can be a little bit vague or unclear but taken together you can identify what is happening.”

“The evidence 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,” Wass said.

The main complainant, a childhood friend of his daughter Bindi, “was targeted, groomed and dehumanised by Rolf Harris over a period of 16 years,” she said.

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The jury at Southwark Crown Court began considering its verdict early Thursday afternoon, and if they did not reach a verdict were due to continue on Friday afternoon.


- AAP

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