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Rolf Harris trial: woman tells court she saw entertainer's 'dark side'

Rolf Harris: a woman told a court that she saw his "dark side".

Rolf Harris: a woman told a court that she saw his "dark side". Photo: Reuters

A weeping woman has told a court she “saw the dark side” of an “evil” Rolf Harris in 1970 when she was 16 or 17, and he groped her intimately on a New Zealand dance floor.

In angry, emotional scenes in Southwark Crown Court, the woman accused the 84-year-old entertainer of destroying her trust when he put his hand under her dress and between her legs.

And another witness told the court that when she was a primary school girl in Darwin Harris once asked how old she was, then said “good, I want to be the first one to introduce you to a tongue kiss”.

The entertainer then held her with both hands and put his tongue in her mouth, which “quite repulsed” her, she said.

Harris, 84, has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecent assault against four complainants.

These two witnesses were not complainants in the trial, because the alleged assaults took place outside UK jurisdiction. They appeared at Harris’ trial as character witnesses for the prosecution.

The New Zealand witness said she was serving wine at a private function at a restaurant, and Harris was “very friendly” and signed an autograph to her “with my love”.

He then asked her to dance.

“I felt relaxed and comfortable, then in a flash, in a moment I saw the dark side of a man who I had thought could be trusted,” the witness said, breaking into tears.

He slid her hand down her back, over her bottom and then put it up the front of her dress and tried to put it between her legs, she said.

“I was in shock,” she said. “He violated my trust.”

She pushed him away, grabbed her bag and left the venue.

She told her mother, but at the time it was a “man’s world” and such things were not usually reported to police, she said.

In an angry exchange with defence counsel Sonia Woodley QC, the woman insisted she had not been inconsistent in her account to police.

“I can clearly recall what happened,” she said.

On Monday another witness, a woman now in her mid-50s, told the court she had been staying at the home of family friends in Darwin, when she was 11 or 12 in her last year of primary school.

She came downstairs in the morning in her pyjama pants and a babydoll top to find Harris polishing some wood with linseed oil.

“He asked me how old I was,” she said. “He said ‘good, I want to be the first on to introduce you to a tongue kiss’.”

She stood there “frozen” as he walked up to her, held her with both hands and “put his tongue into my mouth and gave me a tongue kiss”, she said.

“At the time it seemed like it lasted forever by it must have been very quick…. I was quite repulsed by it, absolutely.”

He then said to her “look at what I’m doing” and showed her his wood polishing, she said.

She later told school friends and her family what had happened, but never went to police. “I would like to be brave enough to do that but I have no trust in the Northern Territory police,” she said.

She said the incident means she gets “upset and frazzled” and scared when anyone – even her husband – tries to give her a tongue kiss.

A third witness told the court that Harris had kissed and fondled her breast and crotch, in a room behind a bar on holiday in Malta when she was 18 in 1970.

She was surprised by his actions because she thought he was just friendly, and was going to show her some paintings.

Harris then stopped and said “I’m sorry”, the witness said.

She said she was glad it stopped because she thought she was going to be raped.

In cross-examination by the defence she denied having made up the story. She said she had no financial interest in inventing such a story, and she was embarrassed by having to relive it in court.

The trial before Mr Justice Sweeney continues.

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