Rolf Harris's final days: Living in the dark, unable to speak and shooed away from a primary school

23 May 2023, 15:52

Harris's final days were spent in the dark and struggling to speak
Harris's final days were spent in the dark and struggling to speak. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Rolf Harris spent his final days in the dark, struggling to talk and keeping a low profile.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The paedophile entertainer died earlier in May, his family said in a statement on Tuesday.

He served three years of a five-year sentence for indecent assault against four girls between 1968 and 1986.

Living in the dark

Rolf Harris lived in leafy Bray, a village just outside Maidenhead that is home to Michelin-starred restaurants and a host of wealthy people.

His presence at the Thames-side home, worth millions, reportedly hit other properties nearby when their owners tried to sell because no-one wanted to live near him and ended up having to slash their asking prices.

Martin Isark, a resident, told The Mirror: "This used to be one of the most desirable estates in the country, partly because of the celebrities here. But not any more.

"I;ve been told would-be buyers now look up river at places like Sonning, where George Clooney lives."

Listen and subscribe to Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street on Global Player

Rolf Harris has died aged 93
Rolf Harris has died aged 93. Picture: Alamy

William Merritt, a private investigator who wrote Rolf Harris: The Defence Team's Special Investigator Reveals the Truth Behind the Trials, said he would try to entertain on the rare occasions people visited him.

It was reported that curtains at the property were usually drawn until just before midday and Harris and his wife Alwen Hughes lived much of their lives in darkness.

Shooed off a primary school

Harris infamously turned up to to a primary school in Maidenhead just two years after being let out of prison.

It was thought he was speaking to a wood sculptor who was working on the grounds of Oldfield Primary School, which sits on the main road to Bray, in 2019.

But Harris was told to leave as he tried to explain he was getting wood from the sculptor.

Read more: Paedophile entertainer Rolf Harris dies aged 93 after neck cancer battle

Rolf Harris spent his final days unable to speak easily
Rolf Harris spent his final days unable to speak easily. Picture: Alamy

Richard Jarrett, the headteacher, told the Maidenhead Advertiser: "In line with our standard procedures, an uninvited individual was asked to leave the outer perimeter of the school site... which he did without delay.

"At no time did any of our pupils come into contact with the individual nor was the individual invited by us onto the school grounds.

"As a precaution, this incident has been reported to Thames Valley Police."

Read more: Rolf Harris 'very sick and unwell' amid neck cancer battle as ambulance spotted outside his home

Struggling to speak amid cancer battle

Rolf Harris was reported to have neck cancer last year, though it had been claimed since 2019 that he was badly ill.

His health was said to have dipped after his pet poodle died last year.

He was said to be receiving round-the-clock care in his home, and by October his only visitors were carers and nurses.

Harris was told to leave Oldfield Primary School
Harris was told to leave Oldfield Primary School. Picture: Alamy

One of his neighbours said she had been told he could not eat anymore.

Mr Merritt said Harris was struggling to talk and people found it hard to understand him as he gargled when he talked.

Lashing out at 'injustice'

The disgraced TV star kept a very low profile after his release from jail, but he did issue a statement in Mr Merritt's book.

"I understand we live in the post truth era and know few will want to know what really happened during the three criminal trials I faced – it's easier to condemn me and liken me to people like Saville and Glitter," Harris said.

"I was convicted of offences I did not commit in my first trial. That is not just my view but the view of the Court of Appeal who overturned one of my convictions.

"I had already served the prison sentence by the time of the appeal.

"I changed my legal team after the first trial, and I was told that if the truth was out there, William [Merritt] would find it and he did.

"The evidence he found proved my innocence to two subsequent juries.

"I'd be in prison serving a sentence for crimes I did not commit if it were not for William's investigation.

"It is difficult to put into words the injustice that I feel."

Quiet death as private ambulance arrives at home

Harris died on May 10, his family said in a statement on Tuesday. They added that he had already been laid to rest, with his death certificate saying he would be cremated.

A private ambulance was pictured outside his home that day.

There was speculation over why it had arrived, but medical help was not uncommon given his health problems. His wife has Alzheimer's disease and is in a wheelchair.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Fury erupted after the cow was rammed by a police car

Let us not be hypocrites when we look at the shocking case of the runaway cow

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

'I didn't expect to die today': Heartbreaking film hopes to keep teenagers out of open water danger

Prince William seen at a procession for the annual Garter Day service

William beams during Order of the Garter procession as royals join King and Queen at Windsor Castle

The parkour runner damaged the UNESCO World Heritage Site building in Italy in a parkour stunt

Shocking footage captures parkour runner damaging UNESCO World Heritage Site in Italy

Defendant Josef Fritzl, center, is escorted to the fourth day of his trial in the provincial courthouse in St. Poelten, Austria, Thursday, March 19, 2009.

Incest monster Josef Fritzl placed under legal guardianship amid worsening dementia

Rod Stewart (pictured on stage in Copenhagen on Sunday June 9) was booed by German fans for supporting Ukraine

Rod Stewart defends show of support for Ukraine after booing at Germany concert

Police officer found guilty of gross misconduct after joyrider killed child actor and aunt in 60mph pursuit

Police officer found guilty of gross misconduct after joyrider killed child actor and aunt in 60mph pursuit

Mugshot of McNaughton, left, and smiling photo or Mr Coshan, right

Catfisher jailed for life after murdering retired teacher he 'lured' to flat using fake profile on gay dating site

Keir Starmer said he was "really shocked" at the footage

'Shocked' Keir Starmer accuses police of 'animal cruelty' after runaway cow rammed five times with squad car

The OceanGate submersible has five people on board

Poignant CGI shows how deep doomed Titan descended on it's ill-fated final journey to the Titanic wreck

Nigel Farage vows to fix 'broken Britain' as he launches Reform UK election 'contract'

Nigel Farage vows to fix 'broken Britain' as he launches Reform UK election 'contract'

Shanika Ocean who plays DC Anna Gilchrist in Silent Witness

Silent Witness actress tells of terror after hooded man tries to get in her car near Tower Bridge

Police were called to Blair Way, Aberavon on Monday

Man, 24, airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after dog attack

Nigel Farage confirmed his ambition to be prime minister by 2029

Nigel Farage reveals ambition to be Prime Minister by 2029 ahead of Reform UK manifesto launch

A missing American tourist has been found dead on a beach on a small Greek island west of Corfu, local media reports

American tourist who went missing on hike found dead on Greek island days after death of Dr Michael Mosley

Joshua Merchan-Nicholls

Would-be pilot needs £106,000 for flight training after losing support when company that backed him shut down