Jury in Rolf Harris trial retires

Rolf Harris. Photo Reuters
Rolf Harris. Photo Reuters
The jury in Rolf Harris's indecent assault trial has finally retired to consider its verdicts some six weeks after the case opened in London.

Justice Nigel Sweeney asked the 12 jurors to begin their deliberations just after midday on Thursday local time.

"You must not feel under any pressure of time at all," the judge said.

Earlier in the week, Justice Sweeney urged the jury to be calm and careful when considering the evidence and then have the courage to deliver true verdicts "whatever the consequences".

Harris is charged with 12 counts of indecent assault against 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 between 1969 and 1991.

Each charge carries a maximum sentence of two years' jail. Harris denies touching any of the women inappropriately.

His defence team says the entertainer has been publicly humiliated and had his good reputation trashed, but the prosecution failed to prove he assaulted anyone.

Lawyer Simon Ray told the court this week that "making allegations loudly and forcefully does not make them true".

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC, however, has urged the jury to find Harris guilty on the basis that 10 alleged victims gave "chillingly similar accounts".

The prosecutor last week 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".

Opening the crown's case on May 9, the barrister said Harris was a "Jekyll and Hyde character" who used his celebrity status to assault underage girls.

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

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

Harris insists the pair had a consensual "affair" which started in 1983 when his daughter's friend was 18. He was 53 at the time. The man who gave the world the wobble board claims the alleged victim came on to him.

Another complainant, Australian woman Tonya Lee, alleges Harris assaulted her in 1986 when, aged 15, she travelled to London with a youth theatre group. The entertainer was 56 at the time.

Justice Sweeney on Thursday reminded the court that Harris accepted during cross-examination that the fact Ms Lee sold her story to A Current Affair and Women's Day in 2013 for $60,000 didn't, of itself, mean her account was untrue.

But the judge also noted that Ms Lee had admitted lying to British detectives about her plans to speak with the media. The defence had invited the jury to conclude that meant she was not someone who could be relied on as a witness of truth, he said.

Justice Sweeney on Thursday told jurors it was inevitable there would be debate during their deliberations with different views being expressed initially. All should be listened to, he said.

The jurors have access to a television so they can watch any of the video shown during the trial.

That includes film from the 1978 Harris family holiday and the entertainer participating in an episode of Star Games in Cambridge the same year.

A month ago, Harris denied ever being to the university city - where a third complainant alleges she was assaulted in the 1970s - until three or four years ago. But he had to admit he was wrong when the Star Games footage was dramatically uncovered mid-trial.

The fourth complainant says she was abused at a community centre near Portsmouth in the late 1960s when she was seven or eight. Harris says she may have mistaken someone else for him.

It's thought the jury could take more than a week to deliver its verdicts.

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