Rolf Harris was convicted of 12 counts of indecent assault on 30th June 2014. Sentence was adjourned to the 4th July in order for a medical report to be obtained. We gave our guess as to what sentence he would receive here.
Prior to sentencing ‘Victim Impact Statements’ were read to the Court, where the victims set out how the abuse had, as the name suggests, impacted on them. There was then mitigation where the obvious factors in mitigation – Mr Harris age, good character and the fact that he is the carer for his ill wife, were put forward.
In the end, Mr Harris was sentenced to a total of 5 years and 9 months in prison. The full sentencing remarks can be read here and are, of course, vital reading in understanding the sentence.
Mr Harris was convicted of the offences as follows:
- Count 1: Indecent assault between 1/1/68 and 1/1/70 on a girl A, aged 7-8
Sentence : 9 months
Details :A was queuing for Mr Harris’s autograph. “When she reached the front of the queue, Harris “twice put his hand up her skirt between her legs and touched her vagina over her clothing“. She said she had initially thought it might have been an accident but then he touched her again.”
- Count 2: Indecent assault on a girl B, 14, between 1/1/75 and 1/1/76
Sentence : 6 months (consecutive)
Details:B was working as a waitress at a charity event when Mr Harris put his arm around her and down her back and over her bottom. “squeezing her left buttock a number of times“.
- Count 3: Indecent assault between 5/4/80 and 4/4/81 on girl C aged 15
- Count 4: Indecent assault between 5/4/80 and 4/4/81 on same girl, 15
- Count 5: Indecent assault between 5/4/80 and 4/4/81 on same girl, 15
- Count 6: Indecent assault between 5/4/80 and 4/4/81 on same girl, 15
- Count 7: Indecent assault between 1/1/84 and 1/1/85 on same girl, then aged 19
- Count 8: Indecent assault between 5/4/80 and 4/4/81 on same girl, 15
- Count 9: Indecent assault between 5/4/80 and 4/4/81 on same girl, 15
Details: C was a childhood friend of Mr Harris’s daughter and they lived close by. The offending started when she was aged 15. A summary of the offending is :
- 3 – digital penetration of C’s vagina by spitting on his finger and putting it under her jeans for a minute – 15 months consecutive
- 4 – digital penetration of C’s vagina by spitting on his finger and putting it under her dungarees for a minute and a half – 15 months concurrent
- 5 – digital penetration of C’s vagina whilst C was staying with Mr Harris daughter (whilst she had left the room) – 15 months concurrent
- 6 – oral penetration of C’s vagina on the same occasion as Count 5 – 12 months concurrent
- 7 – digital penetration of C’s vagina whilst C was staying with Mr Harris daughter whilst she was asleep in the same room – 15 months consecutive
- 8- oral penetration of C’s vagina on the same occasion as Count 7 – 12 months concurrent
- 9 – digital penetration of C’s vagina whilst she was in Mr Harris swimming pool – 12 months consecutive
The news reports indicate that C was aged between 13 and 15 at the time of the offences. Some of this (seemingly the earlier parts) was behaviour that was alleged to have occurred outside of England and Wales, and so cannot be tried in this country. We don’t know if the jury accepted that evidence or not, and so Mr Harris should not be sentenced on the basis that the abuse started when C was 13.
The total sentence for offences relating to C is 42 months
- Count 10: Indecent assault on 31/5/86 on girl D, aged 14
- Count 11: Indecent assault on D on same day
- Count 12: Indecent assault on D on same day
- 10 – putting his hand on her thigh over tights and knickers whilst she was sitting on his lap in public – 9 months concurrent
- 11 – putting D in a ‘forceful bear hug‘ and putting his hand down her top into her bra and playing with her breasts for 30 seconds – 9 months concurrent
- 12 digital penetration – 12 months consecutive
Sentence : Unclear
Note – D has been widely named as it is reported that she has waived her anonymity. There is (probably) no power for her to do this, at least without having a waiver for this blog, as so we won’t name her as this would be a criminal offence. Clearly, all the other news outlets don’t agree with that!
Sentencing Powers & Approach to sentence
The maximum sentences on Count 1 is 5 years, for Counts 2-9 it is 2 years on each count. The maximum for Counts 10-12 is 10 years each. We have a factsheet on sentencing in historic sexual abuse cases. Also worth a read is this on sentencing for multiple offences. The rule nowadays is that you start with the sentence that would be passed had the offences been committed today, before making allowances (sometimes) for the maximum sentence at the time. For that reason, the first port of call is the Sentencing Guidelines for Sexual Offences 2014.
It is perhaps best to group the offences by victim :
- A – 6 months
- B – 9 months
- C – 42 months (3½ years)
- D – 12 months
Having seen the details of the sentencing, we would say that for offending today Mr Harris would receive as follows :
- A – 12 months
- B – 9 months
- C – 120 months (10 years)
- D – 24 months (2 years)
Totality would come into play of course, and we would have thought that the total sentence would have been about 11 years, so double the actual sentence. That is before some discount for his age, health and other circumstances.
What about the child pornography?
Eagle eyed readers of the news will remember that Mr Harris was at one point charged with four offences relating to indecent images of children. This then dropped off the radar, why was that?
The Guardian has a very good explanation of why these allegations did not feature in the trial. We may do a longer piece on the issues round this but, in brief, Mr Harris denied the allegations and there were various investigation ongoing to establish the ages of the people depicted (a difficult area). The Guardian reports that these would not be completed by the time of the trial and, for that reason, they were separated to be tried at a later date.
Presumably they were not referred to in the media before then as it was felt that they were unduly prejudicial to the main trial.
The prosecution decided that there was sufficient public interest in pursuing the indecent images and so they have been left to lie on the file.
- Mr Harris will be required to sign on to the Sex Offenders Register for the remainder of his life
- He will have to pay costs – that will be assessed later, but will be substantial
- The provisions of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act apply automatically
- There was no order for compensation
There will be an appeal – Mr Harris has nothing to lose. One thing about sentencing for historic offences is that nobody is satisfied. On the one hand it is lenient, in that it is around half of what he would get now. On the other hand, it is very severe, as it is probably about four times or so what he would have got had he been sentenced at the time.