News World ‘Barring disaster’ jury retires

‘Barring disaster’ jury retires

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Barring an unforeseen disaster the judge in the Rolf Harris trial will ask the jury on Thursday to retire and consider its verdict.

Justice Nigel Sweeney has spent two days summing up the indecent assault case at Southwark Crown Court in London.

“Barring unforeseen disaster you will be retiring to consider your verdicts tomorrow,” he told the jury on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier, the judge warned the 12 jurors not to give undue weight to a claim by a Channel 7 make-up artist that Harris was known in the industry as “the octopus” because of his roaming hands.

“Don’t overvalue in your considerations the mention of the octopus because it comes from only one witness,” Justice Sweeney said.

He also summarised the evidence given by the main complainant in the case.

A childhood friend of Harris’s daughter Bindi claims the star first abused her when she joined the family on an overseas holiday in 1978.

The then “excruciatingly shy” 13-year-old had taken a shower at their Hawaii hotel and was wrapped only in a towel when Harris gave her “one of his big hugs and tickles”, the alleged victim told the court in mid-May.

The performer then allegedly put his fingers into her crotch area.

Justice Sweeney on Wednesday reminded the jury that Harris admitted in court he admired the bikini his daughter’s friend wore on the trip.

The 84-year-old accepted during cross examination that “he admired her in that bikini, that was, in hindsight, a sexual remark to the effect that he admired her body, indeed that she had a great body”, the judge said.

Justice Sweeney also reminded the court that Harris insisted he didn’t indecently assault the main complainant.

The judge noted that Bindi in her police interview said she couldn’t remember going to Hawaii.

However she told the court that on the trip she was with her friend “every single moment of every single day”.

Bindi said the pair were “stuck together like glue”, Justice Sweeney told the jury.

Harris’s daughter, in her evidence, told the court she hadn’t noticed any change in her friend’s behaviour during the holiday.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC has argued a letter Harris wrote to the alleged victim’s father in 1997 is the “key to the case”.

It was, she said last week, effectively a confession of child abuse.

In a nutshell the prosecution argued the letter was “a calculated attempt to avoid the police being informed”, Justice Sweeney said.

He said the crown believed “its terms clearly indicate it was written by someone who knew that he had been abusing her since the age of 13 – not someone who had been seduced by her”.

The defence, on the other hand, said the letter was consistent with Harris’s claim he’d had a 10-year affair with Bindi’s friend.

According to the defence, the letter was “the honest outpourings of someone finally realising the enormity of what he had consensually done with no subplot to avoid a prosecution”, the judge said.

Harris is charged with indecently 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 touching any of the women inappropriately.

The trial continues.