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Rolf Harris not guilty on three charges

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Rolf Harris has said he’s grateful to a London jury for finding him not guilty on three groping charges.

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But the jurors in Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday failed to reach verdicts on four other indecent assault charges against him, meaning a retrial on those counts could take place.

Judge Alistair McCreath discharged the jury of seven women and five men from deliberating further on the counts they failed to decide on.

The 86-year-old Harris, sitting in a glass booth in the court wearing a dark suit and tie, showed little reaction as he listened to the not guilty verdicts, only sighing at one point.

The entertainer was charged with six counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault against girls and women dating between 1971 and 2004 when the seven complainants were aged between 13 and 42.

Harris is serving jail time after being found guilty on similar charges in a 2014 trial.

Judge McCreath thanked the jury for their “hard work” and ordered parties in the case to return to court next Wednesday to decide the next steps, including whether a retrial takes place.

Outside court, one of Harris’s lawyers, Daniel Berke, gave a short statement to reporters.

“Mr Harris is grateful for the care and attention this jury has given to his case and for the not guilty verdicts returned.

“Given the uncertainty as to what will now happen no further comment can be made.”

The first not guilty verdict was on the case of a woman who said that when she was 13 Harris put his hand up her skirt and onto her vagina outside a Portsmouth radio station in 1977.

The second not guilty verdict was on the claim of a blind and disabled woman that she was groped on the breasts by Harris at a London hospital in 1977 when she was 27.

The third not guilty verdict on a charge of sexual assault was on the claim of a BBC assistant producer who said Harris groped her breasts and pressed his crotch against her at a television studio in 2004 when she was 42.

The undecided counts relate to allegations by four women that Harris groped them when they were aged 13, 14, 16 and 19 between 1971 and 2002.

On Tuesday Judge McCreath told the jury they could reach majority verdicts of 10 out of 12 jurors after failing to reach unanimous decisions.

The jury had deliberated for more than 26 hours at the end of a trial that began on January 9.

The prosecution said Harris’ previous convictions showed he had an “appetite” for groping girls and young women in public venues.

The defence accused complainants of fabricating their claims in the hopes of gaining financial compensation and said the jury in the first trial “got it wrong”, leaving Harris vulnerable to people making accusations against him.

Judge McCreath told Harris he could appear by video-link for next week’s hearing to which Harris replied “thank you”.

– AAP

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