News World Court told Rolf Harris an opportunistic groper

Court told Rolf Harris an opportunistic groper

Rolf Harris
Harris sat quietly in court as lawyers summed up the case against him. Photo: AAP
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Rolf Harris was an opportunistic groper of girls and young women right under the noses of other people, a London court has been told.

The 86-year-old entertainer is on trial at Southwark Crown Court on six charges of indecent assault and one of sexual assault against women and girls when they were aged between 12 and 42.

Prosecuting lawyer Jonathan Rees QC in his closing remarks on Tuesday said all seven complainants had come forward to tell how Harris had groped them in one way or another between 1971 and 2004.

He said Harris in many ways “provided our soundtrack to our growing up” but the prosecution case was that it was “in his nature” to molest young females.

All the complainants said the assaults took place when other people were close by and most were groped over their clothing, Mr Rees told the jury.

He said Harris’ defence team would make a case that the complainants had exaggerated or fabricated their accounts in the hopes of gaining financial gain through damages or compensation.

But he said five of the women had told family or friends of their claims against Harris years before Harris’s first trial in 2014 when he was jailed on similar charges.

That put paid to suggestions they had made up their claims, Mr Rees said.

He said the women told the truth about Harris who “took the opportunity to have a quick grope of them under the noses of other people who were nearby.”

Harris, wearing a dark suit and tie, sat quietly in a glass booth in the courtroom listening attentively as Mr Rees addressed the jury of seven women and five men on Tuesday.

Mr Rees urged the jury to take into account Harris’ 12 previous indecent assault convictions from his 2014 trial as evidence of his “appetite” for such offending that was “part of his make-up”.

He said the similarity of the the groping allegations from seven women who had come forward separately was “a telling case that they are all true”.

Harris did not take the stand during the trial and Mr Rees invited the jury to conclude that meant he would be unable to substantiate any of his claims of innocence under cross-examination.

Harris has said in a statement he didn’t recall any of the complainants and had little recollection of the events where his alleged offences took place.

He’s said such offences were “not in his nature”.

Defence lawyer Stephen Vullo told the jury there were significant gaps in the complainants’ evidence that could not be explained by lapses in memory.

He asked why the complainants had not taken their allegations to police in 2013 and 2014 when the previous allegations against Harris went public and he was vilified in the press.

“What a huge coincidence that all of them thought they wouldn’t be believed in 2013 and 2014 – really?”

Mr Vullo said that as a long-time entertainer in the UK Harris went to thousands of venues and met hundreds of thousands of people so it was impossible for him to remember individuals and events.

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