News World Harris trial judge tells jurors to ‘ignore emotions’

Harris trial judge tells jurors to ‘ignore emotions’

Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

The judge in the Rolf Harris trial has asked the jury to calmly consider the evidence and then have the courage to deliver true verdicts “whatever the consequences”.

Justice Nigel Sweeney has started summing up the case at Southwark Crown Court in London after six weeks of evidence.

The judge on Tuesday told the 12 jurors not to let media reports of the case influence their deliberations. He asked them to guard against “speculation or emotion”.

“What is required of you is a cool, calm, careful and dispassionate consideration of the evidence together with the courage to return true verdicts based on the evidence, whatever the consequences may be,” Justice Sweeney said.

He also warned the six men and six women on the jury not to discriminate against Harris just because he’d gone to the witness box from the dock.

There was no onus on the defendant to prove his innocence or indeed anything, the judge said.

Justice Sweeney told the jury that to convict Harris on the indecent assault charges, “the prosecution must make you feel sure of guilt”.

They needed “proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt”.

In summarising the case, the judge said the prosecution had argued the alleged assaults were “tellingly similar”, which meant there was a compelling case the complainants were telling the truth.

He noted the prosecution had suggested there was no reason why any, let alone so many, women would lie.

The defence, on the other hand, relied strongly on Harris’s good character to assert he didn’t commit any of the offences, Justice Sweeney said.

He reminded the jury that Harris admitted having sexual relations with the main complainant – his daughter’s childhood friend – but insisted it was after she turned 18 and was consensual.

Justice Sweeney said the evidence of the four main complainants and six supporting witnesses could be used to support each of the 12 separate charges.

The more similar the alleged assaults were, the less likely they could be explained by coincidence, he said.

The prosecution argued almost all the 10 women have given “chillingly similar accounts”, including the fact Harris initially approached them with a friendly gesture.

But Justice Sweeney noted the defence dismissed the suggestion the alleged assaults were tellingly similar.

It argued Harris is “a natural hugger and that left him open to false accusations”.

Harris claims three of the complainants are lying, but the fourth may have simply mistaken someone else for him.

Justice Sweeney warned that honest but mistaken witnesses could be impressive because they believed they were telling the truth.

But the prosecution, he noted, argued the fourth complainant could be sure it was Harris who groped her near Portsmouth in the late 1960s because he was famous, with a “trademark look and distinctive accent”.

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

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

It’s expected the jury will retire mid-week to consider its verdict.