Rolf Harris trial: Daughter's shock at abuse claim

Veteran Australian entertainer Rolf Harris, centre, who is accused of indecent assault, holds his daughter Bindi's hand as he walks into court. Photo / AP
Veteran Australian entertainer Rolf Harris, centre, who is accused of indecent assault, holds his daughter Bindi's hand as he walks into court. Photo / AP

Rolf Harris appeared tetchy at times during his third day in the witness box which started with him acknowledging his daughter was "beside herself with shock" when told he'd allegedly sexually abused her friend.

The veteran entertainer also admitted he couldn't explain how three women who didn't know each other described alleged attacks that were so similar.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC said Harris's daughter Bindi, during a phone conversation in 1997, accused her famous father of assaulting a friend.

"Yes," Harris agreed.

Ms Wass said Bindi had been "beside herself with shock" and "was banging her head against a wall". The artist's daughter also destroyed some paintings he'd given her.

Ms Wass then suggested Harris told his daughter he'd actually had a consensual affair with her friend that started when she was 18.

"I can't remember exact details," Harris told Southwark Crown Court.

The entertainer further said he couldn't remember "at this stage" if his daughter had counselling around that time.

Bindi's friend says Harris first assaulted her when she was 13 and joined the family on an overseas holiday in the late 1970s.

He says they had a 10-year-affair that started when she was an adult.

Harris was combative often retorting: "Is that a question?"

At one point he snapped at Ms Wass: "You're not listening to me."

He also insisted many of the things he's alleged to have done were "physically impossible" - including tongue-kissing a girl in her early teens if she didn't want him to.

Ms Wass argued the initial assaults against Bindi's friend and the alleged attack on NSW woman Tonya Lee in 1986, when she travelled to London aged 15, were "almost identical".

Their accounts accord with that of another woman who says Harris put his fingers inside her underpants in 1970 when she was 18.

"They are all giving similar lies if they are lying," Ms Wass said, before asking Harris if he could explain that.

"No, I can't," the 84-year-old replied.

Ms Wass said there was a "common theme" in what the four main complainants and six supporting witnesses allege.

They met Harris during his role as a public entertainer, the assaults started with a "friendly gesture" and the victims were unable to move away or protest.

Further, the prosecutor argued, other people were present or nearby and after the alleged assaults Harris acted "as if nothing had happened".

Ms Wass subsequently accused Harris of tailoring his case to fit the evidence.

The barrister focused on Harris's claim that he was too big a star by 1969 to have visited a small community centre near Portsmouth.

That's where one complainant says she was assaulted aged seven or eight.

Ms Wass pointed out that Harris had, however, gone to a small hardware store in NSW in 1991, where he allegedly assaulted another 15-year-old girl.

There's a poster and photographs to prove he was at that promotional event.

The artist responded by claiming Australia was a different country and he wasn't as famous there as in the UK.

Ms Wass also criticised Harris's statement to police that Ms Lee may have made up her allegations "motivated by a desire for fame and financial reward".

The prosecutor told the jury the fact somebody sold their story and hired a public relations agent didn't mean they weren't telling the truth.

Harris sold his autobiography and had employed a PR firm to represent him during the current court case, she noted.

Ms Wass said the veteran entertainer's claim Ms Lee was in it for the money was an attempt to "vilify" her in the same way he'd tried to discredit Bindi's friend by suggesting she'd tried to blackmail him.

But Harris insisted: "I'm just telling the truth."

Character witness Lonneke Broadribb told the court she went to primary school with Bindi and Harris was always "very friendly".

He would often greet her with a big cuddle or kiss but in an affectionate, rather than sexual, way. Ms Broadribb said she never felt uncomfortable in his presence.

Harris denies indecently assaulting four girls in the UK between 1968 and 1986. The trail continues.

- AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf02 at 23 Dec 2014 00:25:07 Processing Time: 515ms