ROLF Harris's jail sentence for a string of sex crimes involving four girls has been referred to the Attorney General after a claim it is unduly lenient.

The 84-year-old entertainer, a family favourite for decades, was jailed for five years and nine months after he was unmasked as a paedophile with his conviction for 12 indecent assaults.

At London's Southwark Crown Court Mr Justice Sweeney told him: "You have shown no remorse for your crimes at all. Your reputation lies in ruins, you have been stripped of your honours, but you have no-one to blame but yourself."

Loading article content

Harris was unanimously found guilty of molesting four girls-- one woman who was just seven or eight and was groped when she asked for his autograph, and another two who fell prey as young teenagers.

The presenter, who charmed television audiences for decades, was also convicted of a catalogue of abuse against his daughter's best friend, whom prosecutors said Harris groomed from the age of 13 and used like "his little toy".

The accusations dated between 1968 and 1986, and the girls were targeted between the ages of seven or eight and 19.

Harris, who earlier travelled from his Bray home, Berkshire, by boat, sat with a striped suitcase and was impassive as sentence was passed, with daughter Bindi watching from the gallery.

His frail wife Alwen did not come to court, although she has attended much of the trial.

Prosecutors confirmed yesterday he will not stand trial over allegations he downloaded sexual images of children.

But the Attorney General later said his sentence had been referred for being "unduly lenient" after concerns were raised by a small number of members of the public. Dominic Grieve now has 28 days to decide whether any action should be taken.

Earlier, in a full courtroom, Harris's barrister Sonia Woodley QC said the entertainer was "already on borrowed time" and had been punished away from court by being publicly shamed. She said his assaults had been "opportunistic rather than predatory" and he had led an " upright life" for the past 20 years, doing "much good".

The judge told Harris: "For well over 50 years you have been a popular entertainer and TV personality of international standing with a speciality in children's entertainment. You are also an artist of renown. You have been the recipient of a number of honours and awards over the years, you have done many good and charitable works and numerous people have attested to your positive good character. But the verdicts of the jury show that in the period from 1969 to 1986 you were also a sex offender.

"There were a number of aggravating features. You took advantage of the trust placed in you because of your celebrity status to commit the offences against three of the victims. All your offences in relation to [Bindi's friend] were committed in breach of the trust her parents placed in you and two of them took place in her own home.

"In every case the age gap between you and the victim was a very considerable one. You clearly got a thrill from committing the offences while others were present or nearby. Whilst others did not realise what you were doing their presence added to the ordeal of your victims."

Mr Justice Sweeney told the entertainer he would serve half the sentence before being released on licence.