Rolf Harris convicted on twelve counts of indecent assault, some of which occurred when he lived in Sydenham, was today sentenced to a total of five years and nine months.
Harris lived, with his family and mother, in two adjoining modern terraced houses in Border Road during the 1970s. He had a studio at the rear which has since been rebuilt as new home in Lawrie Park Gardens. He was a strong supporter of the Sydenham Society and the Forest Hill & Sydenham Rotary Club. He deceived them and a whole generation of children who grew up enthralled with his amazing artistic skills and apparent love of animals. And even the Queen who sat for a portrait by him.
We now know him to be a ruthless predator, liar and bully. A man who used his position and influence to grope young girls, to groom others shattering their lives and our illusions.
A man who in his eighties was still, apparently, downloading kiddie porn – though these allegations will not now be tried. A man who in the last two years who tried to bully the media to suppress the allegations against him and hence the potential witnesses to his decades of indecent behaviour from coming forward.
The allegations against him, many of which had been ignored for many years, came to a head as part of the Met Police’s Operation Yewtree following the Jimmy Savile revelations. However, unlike Savile who was always a strange and uncomfortable character, Rolf used his Australian charm to encourage trust and bonhomie. The success of which blinded both his audience and those close to him about his true persona. It also made it it very difficult for his victims to come forward and be believed.
Today Rolf Harris can finally be consigned to the list of Sydenham’s villains.
Rolf Harris in 1968