Rolf Harris jury retires to consider verdicts

Rolf Harris (court sketch by Julia Quenzler) Image copyright Julia Quenzler

The jury in the trial of Rolf Harris begins deliberations on Thursday after retiring to consider its verdicts.

The former TV star denies six indecent assaults and one sexual assault on victims aged 12-42, from 1971 to 2004.

His defence lawyer said a "media frenzy" had left Mr Harris "vulnerable to people making accusations against him" in a closing speech on Wednesday.

The prosecution earlier told Southwark Crown Court that Mr Harris, 86, had a "propensity" for assaulting women.

Among the accusations are that Mr Harris inappropriately touched girls on separate occasions when asked to sign autographs.

In relation to one allegation, Mr Harris had faced alternative charges of indecent assault or sexual assault. The jury has been instructed to consider a sexual assault charge in relation to this allegation.

The former entertainer sat in the dock for the hearing on Wednesday, having followed the early stages of the trial via a video-link from Stafford Prison. Judge Alistair McCreath said it was important he attend the close of the trial.

Witnesses were hidden from Mr Harris's view by screens.

'Got it wrong'

Mr Harris's defence said he was innocent of not only these latest charges but also of indecent assaults for which he had been convicted in 2014.

Mr Harris is currently serving a prison sentence for indecent assault on four females.

Stephen Vullo QC said the jury in that trial had "got it wrong".

Closing the defence case, Mr Vullo said: "It's difficult to imagine a harder or faster or deeper fall from grace than that suffered by Rolf Harris."

He blamed a "media frenzy" for making Harris "vulnerable to people making accusations against him".

In the prosecution's closing speech on Tuesday, Jonathan Rees QC said Mr Harris was "very good at getting away with it.".

He told the jury that Mr Harris fed his "appetite" by groping women and girls in public places.

Mr Rees said: "It is striking that so many of the allegations involve Mr Harris getting away with a sly, quick grope right under the noses of people who did not notice."

He argued that Mr Harris's previous conviction showed he "has a propensity and appetite for indecently assaulting females".

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