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Rolf Harris sentenced to five years and nine months in prison

July 4, 2014
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Rolf Harris has been sentenced to five years and nine months in prison following his conviction for 12 indecent assault charges. He will serve half that time and will then be released on licence for the offences, which took place between 1968 and 1986. Sentencing took place at Southwark Crown Court, where a judge told the 84-year-old entertainer that had most of the offences happened today, he would have received a higher maximum term.

rolf harris © Photo: Getty Images

He also told the Australia-born star that his reputation "lies in ruins", and praised each of his victims for showing "considerable courage" in coming forward to give evidence. The TV personality was expected to be taken to Wandsworth jail following sentencing, but is unlikely to serve his sentence there. He will be released within three years. Rolf was supported at Friday's hearing by his daughter Bindi and niece Jenny – his wife of 58 years, Alwen Hughes, who accompanied him to court throughout the trial, was not present at Friday's hearing.

rolf harris1 © Photo: Getty Images

On Monday, the TV personality was found guilty of 12 indecent assaults on four girls. He gave a slight nod as each verdict was read out but otherwise remained impassive. The jury had taken 38 hours to make their decision in a trial that lasted six weeks. Ten women testified against the veteran TV presenter, including the childhood best friend of daughter Bindi, who claimed that she was abused over 16 years. 

Prosecutors had described Rolf as a "Jekyll and Hyde" character and a "pervert" who hid behind a "charming exterior".Born in Australia on March 30, 1930, Rolf arrived in London aged 21 after being told by his parents it was "the hub of the universe". During six decades, he went on to find fame, hosting TV shows based on his easy charm, jokey songs and dab hand at illustrating.

rolf harris2 © Photo: Getty Images

In 1968, the entertainer was created an MBE - before advancing to OBE in 1977 and CBE in 2006. The latter came the year after his commission to paint a portrait of the Queen for her 80th birthday. The artist is also the holder of a Bafta Fellowship, the British TV industry's highest honour, and has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia

Showing the breadth of his erstwhile popularity, he has performed five times at Glastonbury after a quirky cover of Led Zepellin's Stairway to Heaven reached the top ten. "I think they put me on as a joke," he said of his first performance in 1993. "And there were 75,000 people there as far as the eye can see." Now, though, his glittering reputation lies in tatters.

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