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Rolf Harris Sentencing: Australian Backlash Against Native Son Begins

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Rolf Harris's native Australia has moved to distance itself from the former national treasure, after his conviction and prison sentence for sex offences against underage girls.

Harris was sentenced to five years, nine months in prison on Friday for 12 counts of indecent assault, which was immediately referred to the Attorney General's Office for being "unduly lenient".

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Harris, who has lived and performed in the UK for decades, has seen his star fall in Oz.

Public murals of Harris's art are being removed and he may see the Order of Australia, one of the nation's highest civic honours that he received in 2012 shortly before his arrest, rescinded.

rolf harris

Rolf Harris has begun his 'unduly lenient' prison sentence for indecent assault

His likeness will be removed from a Melbourne public mural that depicts "Entertainers Of The Century".

The council of the Perth suburb that Harris originally hails from has voted to remove his artwork from its chambers and withdraw his status as a freeman of the borough.

"We simply cannot tolerate the horrendous crimes for which he's been convicted," Bassendean Mayor John Gangell told the country's ABC radio.

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Rolf Harris through the ages
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The council had removed Harris's photo from its chambers as soon as the 84-year-old was charged. A plaque outside his birthplace was stolen before it could be removed.

Harris, who was sentenced yesterday, has begun his sentence at HMP Wandsworth in south-west London.

He was sentenced as per the guidelines that were in place when the offences took places, between 1968 and 1986, when the penalties were more lenient.

The Attorney General's Office has until August 1 to decide whether to appeal his sentence and seek a harsher one.

rolf harris australia

Rolf Harris' hometown has removed public tributes to its most famous son

At his sentencing, Harris, who was one of Britain's most beloved entertainers and an icon to children before his arrest, destroyed the "childhood innocence" of one his victims.

The judge told Harris he had use his fame to take advantage of the victims, adding: "You have shown no remorse."

Mr Justice Sweeney told Harris he "had no one else to blame" for the assaults.

Referring to one of the specific charges, he told Harris: "You were clowning around and took advantage of the fact she was somewhat star struck."

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Harris clearly "fancied" one of the victims when she was just 13, the judge said.

The judge went over the detail of each allegation in court before sentencing to prison on each count. Some sentences will run concurrently and others consecutively.

It adds up to five years and nine months in jail.

Passing sentence in a packed courtroom, 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 he added: "The verdicts of the jury show that in the period from 1969 to 1986 you were also a sex offender, committing 12 indecent assaults on four victims who were variously aged between eight and 19 at the time.

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