Surprise twist in Rolf Harris sex crimes appeal

Rolf Harris has indicated he's given up plans to appeal his child sex convictions. But victims fear the disgraced Aussie entertainer has other plans, as new details of his reclusive lifestyle after jail are revealed.

Instead the 89-year-old spends his days caring for his long suffering wife, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease, and building model houses for the few friends who have stood by him.

The fall of Harris from Royal favourite to convicted paedophile did not end with his release from jail in 2017.

He has become a recluse in his home town of Bray, Berkshire, sparking outrage when he was spotted near a local school. Hit with huge legal bills, Harris was reportedly considering selling his £5 million ($A9.18 million) mansion.

But a local in the ritzy river town said: "Who's going to buy that?"

Rolf Harris has given up plans to appeal his child sex convictions and has been shunned in his leafy hometown as he battles illness. Picture: Jeff Rayner/Coleman-Rayner
Rolf Harris has given up plans to appeal his child sex convictions and has been shunned in his leafy hometown as he battles illness. Picture: Jeff Rayner/Coleman-Rayner

News Corp spoke to Harris at his home this month on the banks of the Thames River, 50km west of London.

When asked if was planning to appeal his child abuse convictions, Harris, 89, said: "No."

And he said that he was suffering from diabetes, which required frequent trips to the local doctors, one of his only regular outings.

"I've got diabetes. I've suffered from it for 25 years," he said after a visit to The Cedars Surgery in Maidenhead.

Harris was sentenced to almost six years' jail for 12 counts of indecent assault in 2014.

But he was released on parole in May 2017 after spending three years inside.

One of those 12 convictions was overturned on appeal in November 2017, while a jury did not convict him in two additional cases in 2017.

Harris, 89, was seen visiting a doctors surgery near his home in Maidenhead, England, dressed in a red sweater and dirty blue jeans. Picture: Jeff Rayner/Coleman-Rayner
Harris, 89, was seen visiting a doctors surgery near his home in Maidenhead, England, dressed in a red sweater and dirty blue jeans. Picture: Jeff Rayner/Coleman-Rayner

But victims say they are still angry and worried that he has hired private investigators to help him prepare an appeal.

"We all thought Harris was such a good bloke, didn't we?", said one woman who described herself as a target, rather than a victim, of Harris.

"In the moments after he assaulted me, which was more than once, it dawned on me that the people around me were not seeing what I was seeing.

"There are still people who think we overreacted or don't want to believe what is now irrevocably proven."

But one of Harris' few friends, who was referred to as Michael by a woman at the entertainer's house, spoke to News Corp after dropping off a model house for the artist to work on.

He revealed that the health of Harris's long suffering wife of 61 years, Alwen Hughes, who was pictured in a wheelchair outside his court cases, had gone downhill.

"It's Alzheimer's. She can hardly walk, she has carers in all the time. They are just doing a change of carers now," he said.

He said that Harris had given up any hope of fighting his convictions.

"No. He hasn't got the energy or the money, all the money's gone paying lawyers' fees," he said.

"I've already said too much."

Hit with huge legal bills, Harris was reportedly considering selling his £5 million ($A9.18 million) mansion in Bray. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Hit with huge legal bills, Harris was reportedly considering selling his £5 million ($A9.18 million) mansion in Bray. Picture: Ella Pellegrini


Michael defended Harris, saying that he was convicted because of the publicity surrounding fellow BBC paedophile Jimmy Saville.

"He was stitched up because of Jimmy Saville," Michael said.

"It's a sad story and I think you'll be hearing more from him. He's having to look after his wife who is not all well."

There had been reports that Harris' daughter Bindi, who has stuck by her dad, was planning to write a tell-all book.

Michael added: "He's a good guy and he's doing OK, his wife's poorly and hopefully you will hear from him after July when his probation finishes."

Harris had a decades long career including television shows, a UK no 1 with the song "Two Little Boys" and reached a pinnacle when he painted a portrait of the Queen in 2005.

But his fall from grace has been even more spectacular.

Mark Cook, 65, of Maidenhead, said over a pint in the Crown Hotel in Bray that Harris was rarely seen these days. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Mark Cook, 65, of Maidenhead, said over a pint in the Crown Hotel in Bray that Harris was rarely seen these days. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Harris lives in one of England's most expensive areas - Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant in Bray is less than a mile down the road.

Porches and Range Rovers dominate the streets, which are a favourite celebrity haunt.

A chef at the Fat Duck said Harris had not been in recently, and the Hind's Head manager, who had been working there for 18 months had not seen him either.

Staff and locals at the Blue Riveria Hotel and Cafe in Maidenhead said Harris had become a ghost in his home town.

Mark Cook, 65, of Maidenhead, said over a pint in the Crown Hotel in Bray that Harris was rarely seen these days.

Harris was regularly seen around the village before his arrest, often having a beer at the Michelin starred Hind's Head hotel, also ran by Blumethal, opposite the Fat Duck, he said.

But he had only spotted him once in the past six months, when he was dropped off in a taxi with his dog. They then went for a walk down Old Mill Lane.

"We used to see him in the shops on the High Street," he said.

Mr Cook said Harris was protected by his celebrity status at the BBC.

"If you were a superstar you got away with it."

Harris at the front of his house in Bray. He was regularly seen around the village before his arrest. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Harris at the front of his house in Bray. He was regularly seen around the village before his arrest. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Harris was spotted near the Oldfield Primary School, just a few hundred metres from his home in February.

The photographs were splashed around the world and police investigated whether he had breached parole restrictions.

Parents outside the school declined to comment however, there were some supporters in Bray.

Harris appeared to be in the same red jumper when spotted by News Corp as he was in the school photographs.

A local art figure said that the school photograph was a misunderstanding because Harris was trying to speak to a sculptor who was carving logs in the school grounds.

"He keeps to himself," the art figure said.

Harris was spotted near the Oldfield Primary School, just a few hundred metres from his home in February. Police then investigated whether he had breached parole restrictions. Picture: Jeff Rayner/Coleman-Rayner
Harris was spotted near the Oldfield Primary School, just a few hundred metres from his home in February. Police then investigated whether he had breached parole restrictions. Picture: Jeff Rayner/Coleman-Rayner

A woman walking her dogs on the banks of the Thames River across from Harris's home gave an insight into his charm.

"Thirty years ago he painted a lovely picture of my niece who was dying," she said.

The woman wanted to remember that image of Harris, rather than his court convictions.

But Harris's victim said that her life was forever changed after Harris' alleged assault.

"In an instant he had left me more unsettled and uncertain about life," she said.

"He was a dirty old man, a groper, a brutal abuser of young women."