Harris spending first weekend in jail

The 84-year-old was immediately sent to Wandsworth prison in southwest London after being sentenced to five years and nine months’ jail for a string of indecent assaults against four girls in the UK.



He’ll only have to serve half that sentence, however, meaning he’ll be released in less than three years.


Former Hey Dad! star and Bravehearts ambassador Sarah Monahan criticised the sentence as “way too light” on social media.


“It saddens me you get more time for money offences than you do for crimes against children,” she wrote on her Facebook page.


Ms Monahan said the parallels between the Harris sentencing and that of Australian actor Robert Hughes – her on-screen father who assaulted her and three other young girls during the 1980s and 1990s – “astound me”.

Hughes was sentenced in May to 10 years and nine months’ jail but could be released in six years.


In sentencing Harris at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, Justice Nigel Sweeney said: “You have shown no remorse for your crimes at all.”


Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said that was to be expected.


“The remorse would be a lie anyway,” Ms Johnston told AAP.

“It’s a very, very selfish act to hurt a child. You can’t do it unless you have a lack of empathy.

“He’s ignorant, self-absorbed and an egomaniac.

“I think his victims feel vindicated anyway. I don’t think they expected remorse from a man like him.”


After Harris was sentenced, one of the four victims in the case said she felt “very sad” that the former star continued to deny his crimes.

The woman, now 52, was groped at Cambridge in 1978 when she was working as a waitress at a celebrity sporting event.


“He knows in his heart of hearts that he did these things,” she told ITV News.


“I would have liked him to hold up his hand and say `fair cop, I have done these things’.


“It would have been a lot braver but he’s a nasty man who took advantage of his position, exploited that to the very utmost, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.”


The man leading the child sex abuse royal commission in Australia says Harris’s conviction in London is likely to encourage more victims to come forward.


Justice Peter McClellan, who chairs the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, believes victims who’ve suffered in silence for years are finally opening up thanks to high-profile court cases, inquiries and public condemnation of historical abuse.


“It is becoming apparent as we do our work that, as the issue of abuse is raised and talked about, survivors increasingly feel able to bring their own story to the authorities,” Justice McClellan said.

“That which may have been kept secret for years may now be told. The burden of guilt and shame which many have felt is lifted by knowing that others who have suffered have overcome their reticence.”

Before sentencing, Harris’s barrister pleaded for leniency due to the fact he was 84.


“He is already on borrowed time,” Sonia Woodley QC told the court.


“Every day, every month in prison is going to shorten his life.”


But Justice McClellan said survivors who suffered at Harris’s hands would want him punished notwithstanding his age.


“They have suffered and, in their minds, so must he.”

Harris’s sentence on Friday was immediately referred to UK Attorney-General Dominic Grieve under the “unduly lenient sentence scheme”.


The attorney-general now has a month to decide whether to send the case to the Court of Appeal which could increase the length of the Australian’s imprisonment.