Sentence of disgraced TV star Rolf Harris upheld

2014-07-31 10:08
London - Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris's sentence for sex offences will not be referred to an appeals court despite numerous complaints that it was too lenient, the attorney general's office in Britain said on Wednesday.

The 84-year-old Australian-born Harris, a long-time fixture on British television, was jailed earlier this month for five years and nine months for a string of sexual assaults against girls.
Attorney General Jeremy Wright, the government's chief legal adviser, received 150 complaints asking to review the sentence for being too lenient.

But his office said on Wednesday that the sentence will not be referred to the Court of Appeal.

"After very careful consideration, the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright... has decided not to refer the five year and nine month sentence given to Rolf Harris to the Court of Appeal, as he did not think they would find it to be unduly lenient and increase it," said a
spokeswoman from his office.

Courts bound by maximum sentence

Wright acknowledged that the ruling would cause disappointment, but said the courts were bound by the maximum sentence in force at the time of the offences.

Trial judge Nigel Sweeney made some of the sentences on the 12 counts consecutive to make up the total term, of which Harris will serve around half, but also had to take into account the entertainer's age.

The television star, artist and songwriter was found guilty of indecently assaulting four victims between 1969 and 1986, including the childhood best friend of his daughter Bindi.

"You have shown no remorse for your crimes at all," Sweeney told Harris as he handed down his sentence earlier in July.

"Your reputation lies in ruins, you have been stripped of your honours, but you have no one to blame but yourself."

Harris was the second person to be convicted under a wide-ranging police investigation set up in the wake of revelations that the late Jimmy Savile, a fellow major BBC star, was a prolific abuser.

Seven of the 12 counts against Harris related to the friend of Bindi, including one incident when she was 15 where he seriously sexually assaulted her while his daughter slept in the adjacent bed.

The entertainer's conviction caused widespread revulsion in Britain, where his television programmes were watched by millions of children, and his homeland of Australia.

He was made a CBE in 2006  one step below a knighthood  and even painted Queen Elizabeth II's portrait to mark her 80th birthday.

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