JULY 01, 2014
THE small cold cell with pale yellow walls is a long way from what Rolf Harris used to call home.
When he walks in and looks around he will see a sink, a toilet and basic shelves. There will be very little privacy with just a small screen between his bed and his new cellmate.
They will share a cell no larger than 10ft by 6ft.
This week he will be spending time with wife Alwen in their spacious mansion in what will almost certainly be his last days of freedom.
With a possible sentence of up to 20 years, the elderly and unwell Harris must know he will probably die in jail.
Former inmates of Wandsworth Jail, likely to be Harris’ first stop after his sentencing on Friday, describe chipped bunk beds, a small window that barely opens and everything made of moulded plastic so nothing can be broken or used as weapons.
But a lack of creature comforts would be the least of Harris’ worries as the newest inmate at Wandsworth. As a convicted child sex offender and a well-known face, he will have a target on his back among the intimidating criminals under the same roof.
The jail website boasts of recent improvements that include a privacy screen and electricity but that will be cold comfort to Harris, who until now has lived with his wife in a spacious mansion overlooking the Thames.
This is what the new normal looks like for 84 year-old Harris and he will have to adjust to his new life quickly and have his wits about him.
Wandsworth Jail, in southwest London, is a category B prison one step down from maximum security. It is Britain’s largest with about 1800 inmates. It is also one of the most feared — especially if you are a celebrity.
Other famous people who have been locked away there have told how being well-known in Wandsworth was tantamount to walking around with a target painted on your back.
Lord Brocket, a former British MP, spent time there after being convicted of fraud. He discovered it was a “screws jail” controlled by “hostile and aggressive” prison wardens, not management.
Before Harris gets to his cell he will have to walk past others along a Victorian-era landing where a net has been strung between the opposite hallway to prevent people jumping — or being thrown — over the side.
Those who have been there say Wandsworth is dark and scary. And very, very noisy with inmates yelling at the newly arrived, taunting them out of boredom but also to determine who is the weakest.
There will be no special treatment for Harris when he arrives, as all inmates in British jails are subjected to the same procedures.
He will have to strip naked and submit to an invasive search before showering and getting into the traditional prison uniform of blue jeans and blue and white shirts.
Harris’ cellmate is not likely to cause him any trouble. It’s other inmates who usually pose a problem for new arrivals.
Gang members use standover tactics and the weak and vulnerable are preyed upon.
Jail is not meant to be a walk in the park but audits carried out at Wandsworth over the past decade revealed serious concerns about prisoners being beaten up and conditions that “failed to meet basic standards.”
Harris though should be spared the worst if, as expected, he is housed in the prison’s E wing or the care and separation unit which was formerly known as the segregation unit.
Prisoners go for their own protection. In the prison jungle, those convicted of sex crimes against children are the lowest of the low and Harris’ celebrity means there will be nowhere for him to hide.
But he won’t be separated from other prisoners and he will still have to share a cell with someone.
Despite all of this in many ways Harris is fortunate. His old age and failing health mean after a certain amount of time he will likely be sent to an “open” prison to serve out his sentence.
That is the name given to jails where there is minimal supervision and perimeter security because those who go there are considered low risk to the public.
A big emphasis is placed on rehabilitation at open prisons, and some prisoners are able to work there while they complete their sentence.
Harris will struggle there too, away from the comforts of the home he enjoyed with wife Alwen Hughes.
The stately three-storey home he leaves behind in Bray, Berkshire, is spread over sprawling grounds and looks across the waters of the River Thames. He can access the river from the expansive lawn and leafy gardens behind the home which run alongside a bedsit the family created for daughter Bindi.
After this Friday, that will all just be a memory for Harris, the veteran Australian entertainer, celebrity and now, sex offender.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
9636 819991 61
his path of destiny = 61 = No escape. Not getting away with this.
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