Why Did Rolf Harris Receive Such a Lenient Sentence?

When it was announced overnight that entertainer Rolf Harris would be spending five years and nine months in prison for indecently assaulting four girls, the sentence was immediately and vocally condemned as being far too lenient.

Many people took to Twitter to express their outrage at the sentence, and the fact that Harris could be out of prison in less than three years, referring to it as a “joke” and an insult to victims of child sexual abuse.
Had Harris carried out his offenses today, the penalties against him would be significantly harsher, including possible life imprisonment. However, because his crimes were committed between 1969 and 1986, he had to be sentenced according to the laws of the time.
For instance, if Harris were to grope an eight-year-old fan today, he could expect to be jailed for up to 14 years, but because he did so in 1969, the maximum sentence he could have received was just five years.

Additionally, while Harris was found guilty on all 12 counts brought against him, not all counts could be given consecutive prison terms, meaning that some must be served concurrently. This, the Telegraph report, was another deciding factor in his short sentence.

There is still scope for an appeal against the term handed down by Justice Nigel Sweeney. As of this morning, the sentence has already been referred to UK attorney-general Dominic Grieve for investigation and review.

“I can confirm the sentence handed to Rolf Harris today has been referred to the attorney-general’s office under the unduly lenient sentence scheme,” said a spokesman for the attorney-general.

Dominic Grieve now has 28 days to review Harris’s sentence.
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