Convicted paedophile Rolf Harris dead aged 93
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London: Rolf Harris, the disgraced Australian entertainer convicted of sexually assaulting four girls, died on May 10 at the age of 93, his death certificate released on Tuesday revealed.
A registrar at Maidenhead Town Hall confirmed the convicted paedophile’s death from neck cancer and “frailty of old age” at his home in Bray, Berkshire. A private ambulance was photographed leaving his mansion earlier this month.
Rolf Harris arrives for his trial with wife Alwen Hughes, right, and daughter Bindi at Southwark Crown Court in London in 2014.Credit: AP.
In a statement, the Harris family said: “This is to confirm that Rolf Harris recently died peacefully surrounded by family and friends and has now been laid to rest.
“They ask that you respect their privacy. No further comment will be made.”
Harris, who found stardom as a singer, painter and television presenter before he was convicted of 12 historical indecent assaults between 1968 and 1986, had worldwide hits with songs including Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport and Two Little Boys.
He hosted television shows in Australia and Britain for more than 50 years, painted the late Queen’s 80th birthday portrait and was appointed CBE, MBE and OBE. Following his convictions, he was stripped of many of his honours.
It was revealed in October that Harris, who had become a recluse since being released from prison in 2017, was “gravely ill” with cancer and receiving around-the-clock care.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Alwen Hughes, 91, who has Alzheimer’s disease and has been wheelchair-bound for some years, and his only child, Bindi Harris, 59, who works as an artist.
Harris was jailed for five years and nine months in June 2014 after he was found guilty of 12 indecent assaults at London’s Southwark Crown Court. These included an assault on an eight-year-old autograph hunter, assaults on two girls in their early teens, and a catalogue of abuse against his daughter’s friend over 16 years.
During the trial, one victim said the abuse had destroyed her “childhood innocence”, while another said the assaults made her feel “dirty, grubby and disgusting”. Others described how they had struggled to move on, with one saying the abuse had “haunted her”.
Rolf Harris meets King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, in 2009.Credit: AP
In 2017, a jury found that he was not guilty of indecently assaulting a young autograph hunter when she visited him at a radio station in Portsmouth with her mother at the end of the 1970s; not guilty of groping a blind and disabled woman at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London in 1977; and not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in her forties after the filming of a TV show in 2004.
Later the same year, one of the 12 indecent assault convictions was overturned by the Court of Appeal.
He had not spoken publicly since his release but provided a statement for the book written by a private investigator, William Merritt, about the trial.
Rolf Harris with his famous wobbleboard in 1993.Credit: Fairfax
“I understand we live in the post-truth era and know few will want to know what really happened during the three criminal trials I faced – it’s easier to condemn me and liken me to people like (Jimmy) Saville and (Garry) Glitter,” the statement read.
“I was convicted of offences I did not commit in my first trial. That is not just my view but the view of the Court of Appeal who overturned one of my convictions. It is difficult to put into words the injustice that I feel.”
A new documentary on British television last week aired more allegations against the convicted sex offender, including that Harris warned his daughter Bindi’s friend – who he was abusing – to “tread carefully” because he was powerful and wealthy.
The program, Rolf Harris: Hiding In Plain Sight, claims Harris led a toxic double-life, molesting contributors and crew on the shows he worked on for years, with his assaults becoming gradually more serious throughout his excelling television career in the 1970s and ’80s. This public persona of a non-threatening eccentric who was devoted to his wife ran counter-narrative to a view within the entertainment industry that Harris was known as “a creep”.
Born in Perth, Western Australia in 1930, where he was a junior swimming champion, he moved to London in 1952 to study art. He released 30 studio albums, two live albums and 48 singles in his career, which included recording with The Beatles. Two Little Boys, an American Civil War song, was the Christmas number one in the UK charts for six weeks in 1969.
In 1982, he performed at both the Victorian Football League grand final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the opening ceremony of the Brisbane Commonwealth Games.
Harris enjoyed a renaissance in the 1990s through a cover version of Led Zeppelin’s iconic Stairway to Heaven, which reached number seven in the British charts and led to his appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in 1993. Harris appeared at six subsequent Glastonbury festivals –1998, 2000, 2002, 2009, 2010 and 2013 and performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert.
Support for victims of abuse is available from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), as well from Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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