Rolf Harris trial: Jurors urged to find Harris guilty

By Julian Drape

Veteran Australian-British entertainer Rolf Harris who is accused of indecent assault. Photo / AP
Veteran Australian-British entertainer Rolf Harris who is accused of indecent assault. Photo / AP

Jurors in Rolf Harris' sex abuse trial have been urged to find the entertainer guilty on the basis that 10 alleged victims have given "chillingly similar accounts".

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC said indecent assault cases often relied on the word of one alleged victim against a perpetrator but with Harris many women had described his "deviant sexual behaviour".

Harris is charged with 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.

"In this case it's the word of 10 independent victims, all who have given chillingly similar accounts of sexual abuse and exploitation, by a man whose public image was pristine and lilywhite," Ms Wass said in her closing speech on Tuesday.

The prosecutor told Southwark Crown Court the victims saw the dark side of Harris who admitted during the trial he was sexually attracted to a 13-year-old girl.

The 84-year-old was a "sinister pervert who had a demon lurking beneath the charming exterior", Ms Wass said.

The collective evidence painted a picture of an arrogant and brazen man who treated girls and young women "as sexual objects to be groped and mauled as he felt like it".

"Is it really being suggested that all of these women are fantasists?" the barrister asked.

Harris did just that a fortnight ago, telling the court: "They are all making it up."

But Ms Wass on Tuesday insisted: "There can be no doubt they are telling the truth".

The main complainant is a childhood friend of Harris's daughter Bindi.

She claims he first abused her when, aged 13, she joined the family on an overseas holiday in 1978.

Ms Wass said a letter Harris wrote to her father in 1997 was the key to the case.

"This is a confession of child abuse," she said, arguing Harris had simply moved events in time to suggest there was no physical relationship until Bindi's friend turned 18.

In the letter Harris talks of being in a "state of abject self-loathing" and being sickened by himself "when I see the misery I have caused".

Ms Wass said that didn't make sense if, as Harris told the jury, his daughter's friend had instigated the sexual contact.

"She was targeted, groomed and dehumanised over a period of 16 years.

"He just used her for his sexual gratification like she was a blow-up doll."

The prosecutor said by her early-20s the alleged victim "was performing clinically for him like a prostitute".

Ms Wass contrasted the main complainant's willingness to hand over her medical records - which show she told doctors and counsellors about the abuse from the mid-1990s onwards - with Bindi's refusal to release her therapy notes.

The crown argues they could reveal whether Bindi was traumatised by being told her famous father assaulted her friend when underage.

Ms Wass noted there were "striking similarities" between the allegations put by the main complainant and Australian woman Tonya Lee.

Ms Lee claims Harris abused her when she travelled to London as a 15-year-old in 1986.

The prosecutor said the NSW woman's decision to sell her story to Women's Day and A Current Affair was not that much different to Harris's "staged, slow walk" into court everyday with Bindi and his wife Alwen.

It was done "for the sole purpose of the cameras", Ms Wass said, noting Bindi only got into her parent's car around the corner after waiting in a nearby cafe.

"You may think that if anyone has manipulated publicity in this case it is Mr Harris," Ms Wass said.

The barrister also attacked Harris for "ducking and diving" after video footage emerged of him competing in Star Games in Cambridge in the 1970s.

He'd previously told the court he couldn't have committed one of the alleged assaults because he'd never been to the city until three or four years ago.

"Such over-detailed excuses are often the stuff of lies," Ms Wass said.

"Harris is a determined, purposeful, liar."

Defence lawyer Sonia Woodley QC is expected to begin her closing speech on Wednesday.

Justice Nigel Sweeney will then sum up the case with the jury likely to retire to consider its verdict on Tuesday.

- AAP

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