Harris a 'sinister pervert', UK court told

Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris
Rolf Harris is a sinister pervert who left his daughter's childhood friend an "emotionally dead creature" following years of sexual abuse, a London court has been told.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC launched a scathing critique of the entertainer's character in her closing speech on Tuesday (local time).

In a reference to Harris singing part of Jake the Peg at the beginning of his evidence a fortnight ago, the prosecutor said no one could buy, bully or sing their way out of a criminal charge.

The main complainant in the sex abuse trial is a childhood friend of Harris's daughter Bindi.

She says the artist and singer first abused her when, aged 13, she joined the family on an overseas holiday in 1978.

The alleged victim went to the UK police in November 2012.

"So began the investigation into the seemingly untouchable world-famous children's entertainer," Ms Wass told Southwark Crown Court.

The barrister said subsequently more and more women came forward, none of whom knew each other.

They all described Harris's "deviant sexual behaviour".

"He was a sinister pervert who had a demon lurking beneath the charming character," Ms Wass said.

The Australian "considered underage girls as sexual objects" to be "groped and mauled".

The entertainer believed his fame made him untouchable, the prosecutor said, adding he was "brazen and arrogant".

Harris claims he had a 10-year consensual affair with Bindi's friend that started when she was 18.

But Ms Wass told the jury: "She was targeted, groomed and dehumanised over a period of 16 years."

"There was no talking, no affection, no gentleness. This was almost clinical, gynaecological sex."

Ms Wass argued the now 49-year-old woman who gave evidence a month ago was a "damaged and emotionally dead creature".

All the life was drained out of her, the court was told.

Her voice was flat and resigned.

The prosecutor highlighted four points of evidence that showed Harris abused the main complainant from the age of 13.

First, her mother told the court she had panic attacks which only started after she returned from the overseas holiday in 1978.

Second, her high-school teachers reported that she was prone to tears.

The alleged victim also started abusing alcohol in her teens, and, finally, she told a school friend when she was 16 that Harris was a "dirty old man" who used to feel her up.

Ms Wass questioned why Harris appeared to forget many things but remembered others extremely well.

For example, the 84-year-old recalled in great detail the day in 1983 he says the main complainant first flirted with him by kicking of the duvet to reveal her bare legs.

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

"Mr Harris is a determined and purposeful liar."

Ms Wass argued it was absurd to think four complainants and six supporting witnesses could have all made up similar stories.

"The prosecution says there can be no doubt they are telling the truth."

The prosecutor described the evidence given by the women as building up a picture of Harris.

Comparing the evidence to one of the Australian's own paintings she said: "Each stroke can be a little bit vague or unclear but taken together you can identify what is happening."

The barrister said most of the women gave evidence anonymously and clearly weren't after fame or fortune.

She noted that some people had described Operation Yewtree as a "celebrity witch-hunt" and argued that "touching up teenagers" was acceptable back in the 1960s and 1970s.

But Ms Wass told the jury such behaviour was never acceptable.

"Neither fame, wealth, age nor talent can provide any excuse for this behaviour."

The prosecutor dismissed evidence from Harris's older brother and manager Bruce. He could "in no way be considered an independent witness", she said.

Harris's daughter, Bindi Nicholls, sat in the public gallery for the first time on Tuesday alongside her mother Alwen.

Ms Wass said Bindi's evidence - that she'd never been apart from her friend during the 1978 trip and therefore her father couldn't have committed the assaults - was "ludicrous".

Justice Nigel Sweeney told the jury the defence would deliver its closing speech after Ms Wass.

The judge will then sum up on Monday with the jury likely retiring on Tuesday to consider its verdict.

Harris is charged with indecently assaulting four girls in the UK between 1968 and 1986.

He denies all 12 counts.

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