Rolf Harris trial: 'I felt sickened by myself'

 

Crime Correspondent

Rolf Harris told jurors that he was “sickened” by his behaviour as he admitted a string of sexual encounters with his daughter’s best friend when she was a teenager – but he repeatedly denied abusing her as a child.

The 84-year-old entertainer, who has been married for 56 years, detailed seven occasions from sexual touching to full sex, but said they were consensual encounters with a “flirtatious” and “coquettish” teenager. He claimed she initiated the sexual relationship when she was 18.

Southwark Crown Court was told that the woman, 35 years Mr Harris’s junior, was a willing participant in encounters that spanned a decade until their acrimonious break-up – when she accused him of abusing her from the age of 13.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has previously told the court that the entertainer first molested her while she was on holiday with his family in the late 1970s, sparking a descent into alcoholism during her twenties.

Giving evidence for the first time, Mr Harris also admitted to an affair with a woman in her thirties after she moved into a small house at the bottom of his garden. The Australian-born artist and musician said that affair began when the woman ferried him to pantomime performances, and ended when she had to move for specialist treatment for breast cancer. “I didn’t feel good about it,” Mr Harris said of the affair.

Court artist drawing of Rolf Harris in the dock (PA) Court artist drawing of Rolf Harris in the dock (PA)

His voice dropped to murmur as he spoke about his sex life and how he had cheated on his wife, Alwen, with the teenage friend of their daughter, Bindi.

“I felt that I had betrayed everybody: my wife, my daughter and betrayed [the woman’s] parents,” he said.

“I betrayed their trust because I had had an affair with their daughter who was much younger than me.”

Mr Harris described himself as a “touch-feely” person but denied his victim’s claims that he molested her when she was 13, once as she emerged from a shower and again on a beach in Hawaii.

He claimed the sexual relationship started when the woman stayed at his home in Bray, Berkshire, while visiting his daughter and he took a cup of tea to her bed. Mr Harris said he touched her leg. “I can remember my heart was thumping away,” he added. Mr Harris denies 12 counts of indecent assault on four alleged victims over 18 years from 1968.

It emerged on Tuesday that jurors spotted Mr Harris sketching in the dock on Friday. The pictures have been taken away and destroyed, Mr Justice Sweeney told the court.

The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'