Rolf Harris preyed on a blind, disabled woman like a “hawk pouncing on his prey”, leaving her “completely and utterly trapped”, a woman has claimed in court.
Disabled since her premature birth, the complainant was totally blind and had to walk with sticks when she was allegedly groped by Harris at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London in 1977, Southwark Crown Court heard.
The woman, not at the time an in-patient at the hospital, recalled feeling hot air from Harris’s nostrils and his beard tickling the back of her neck after he approached “from absolutely nowhere”.
The alleged victim said she knew straight away it was Harris who had entered the room from his “unmistakeable voice”.
She said she thought Harris may have climaxed during the episode, where she remembered him crouching down behind her and leaning his full weight against the chair she was sitting on.
She told the court: “He was obviously getting very sexually aroused because he was pushing against the chair and after several minutes he reached a climax and there was a great exhalation of air as he felt better, as it were.”
Asked by defence lawyer Stephen Vullo if she was claiming the TV presenter had ejaculated in her presence, she said: “I did not have the opportunity of seeing his trousers, nor would I wish to, but I can only tell you of the sounds he was making and the noises and the pressure he was putting on my chair.”
At one point he tried to justify his behaviour saying “I’m just a touchy-feely sort of bloke”, later adding: “Don’t be like that, I’m only being friendly” when she asked him to stop, she said in a pre-recorded interview from July 2014.
The complainant, who has two full-time carers, went on: “What annoyed me was that I just could not escape, and being blind I couldn’t always tell where he was.
“I was completely and utterly trapped.”
Wearing a black suit and black and white tie Harris, who appeared by video-link, is serving a sentence at Stafford Prison for a series of offences of indecent assault carried out on four female victims.
He maintains his innocence, prosecutor Jonathan Rees said, and has pleaded not guilty to a further seven counts of indecent assault and one alternative charge of sexual assault.
Each of the new alleged victims contacted the police or the NSPCC in the wake of the publicity surrounding the first trial, the prosecutor said.
She continued: “One (complainant) later described him as an octopus.
“I thought ‘that’s exactly what it felt like with his arms and fingers spread as far as he could spread them’.
Her voice breaking, she continued: “The way he took advantage over someone that was totally blind, virtually stuck in terms of mobility … it’s absolutely appalling. In my opinion it’s as degrading as it gets.”
She went on: “No-one has ever behaved like that to me in my life and I have to say even my husband, at his most passionate times, never covered my body in a way that he has done.
“Rolf Harris doesn’t ask permission he just grovels.”
While being cross-examined from a wheelchair with her carer by her side, the witness recalled Harris teaching her how to play his didgeridoo in the 13x9ft room after the alleged assault.
Mr Vullo asked her if she would agree the pair had what sounded like a “very happy” exchange following the alleged incident and she replied: “It may seem like that but I can assure you it was not the case.”
“Nobody had any idea that Rolf Harris was this kind of man. We all thought he was Mr Nice Guy,” she went on as Harris cradled his head.
Asked by Mr Vullo why she had not come forward until the publicity of the first trial she said: “I was just so amazed because Rolf Harris was somebody I had grown up with and we loved it. He was part of our culture and I used to love listening to him on the television.”
The complainant said she did not report the incident or call the police that day because she did not think anybody would believe her allegations against “an extremely popular man”.
She said when Harris was referred to as a “predator” in his first trial she recalled he had acted similarly with her.
She said of the encounter: “It was like a hawk pouncing on his prey and that is what he did to me.”
“I thought I was the only one but he did it to so many and that’s what hurt me so much,” she continued.
Raising her voice she said: “He only has himself to blame and what I wish he would do is apologise to all his victims, me being one of them.”
She admitted having a difficult financial situation but denied she was making the allegations in the hope of getting some of Harris’s money.
The case was adjourned until 10am on Tuesday.