Rolf Harris jury discharged after failing to reach verdict on indecent assault charges

5200

Former television entertainer Rolf Harris leaves Southwark Crown Court on May 22. Picture: Carl Court/Getty

THE jury in Rolf Harris’ latest trial has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict over charges of indecent assault.

But the disgraced entertainer could face yet another trial over sexual abuse allegations.

Prosecutors will return to court this afternoon to announce whether they will pursue another trial.

The 87-year-old faced four indecent assault charges in London’s Southwark Crown Court, alleging he groped three teenage girls in 1971, 1978 and 1983.

It is alleged he groped the three complainants at public events in England in 1971, 1978 and 1983 when they were aged 14, 16 and 13.

But the jury of seven woman and five men told the court they could not reach a verdict on the four counts of indecent assault.

Judge Deborah Taylor dismissed the jury at Southwark Crown Court in London.

TROUBLED DELIBERATIONS

The jury were sent out to deliberate just after 2pm on Friday after hearing the claims of three women who say the entertainer groped them when they were teenagers.

Judge Deborah Taylor told the jurors they must decide whether the women had fabricated their claims or were telling the truth.

She asked them to return unanimous verdicts.

After just over two hours of jury deliberations the judge sent the jurors home for the long weekend, telling them to return to the court Tuesday.

Former television entertainer Rolf Harris and his niece Jenny Harris leave Southwark Crown Court on May 22, in London, England. Picture: Carl Court / Getty

Source:Getty Images

Earlier on Tuesday morning the jury reported they were unable to reach unanimous verdicts so judge Deborah Taylor allowed them to return majority verdicts. But the jury later returned to the courtroom where their forewoman confirmed they could not reach majority verdicts.

When asked by the judge if they could reach verdicts if given more time, the forewoman replied, “No”.

Harris, wearing a dark suit and blue tie, listened quietly to the proceedings in a glass booth in the court.

Prosecuting lawyer Jonathan Rees sought an adjournment until 2pm on Tuesday to seek instructions on whether the prosecution intended to take the charges further.

CONFLICTING ARGUMENTS

Rees had told the jury that three different women, unknown to each other, had made very similar complaints to police that Harris had quickly groped them at public events.

He said the only reasonable explanation for such a coincidence was that each of the women was telling the truth, not perjuring themselves under oath.

Defence lawyer Stephen Vullo accused two of the women of fabricating their claims to “jump on the compensation bandwagon” and the other of making up her story up to advance a career as an advocate for sex abuse victims. He said the women’s evidence had been inconsistent and their allegations fell “far below a criminal standard of guilt” so his client should be acquitted.

Harris is accused of touching a 14-year-old girl between her legs at a youth band event in London in 1971. He is also accused of squeezing the breast of a 16-year-old girl and running his hand up between her legs in the back of a taxi at a celebrity sports event in 1978.

The third accusation is that he groped the breast of a 13-year-old girl after an entertainment show broadcast at the BBC Television Centre in 1983 and said to her, “Do you often get molested on a Saturday morning”.