Cardinal George Pell will learn his fate next Wednesday when the Court of Appeal hands down its decision on whether to overturn his child sexual abuse convictions. Source: The Age.
Cardinal Pell was last year found guilty of sexually abusing two choirboys in the 1990s when he was Archbishop of Melbourne. His appeal was heard over two days in June.
The Court of Appeal will hand down its judgment on Wednesday from 9.30am. It will be live-streamed from the Supreme Court website.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, Justice Chris Maxwell, the president of the Court of Appeal, and Justice Mark Weinberg could overturn the convictions, uphold them, or order a retrial.
There are three key reasons cited as grounds for an appeal by the Cardinal’s legal team.
Firstly, the team claims County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd should have allowed the defence to play a 19-minute "Pac-Man"-style video, with coloured dots representing where they say people would have been in St Patrick’s Cathedral during Sunday Mass in December 1996. The prosecution protested that the jury might view the video as an accurate reconstruction of where people were.
Another ground says there was a “fundamental irregularity” because Cardinal Pell was not arraigned – asked if he pleaded guilty or not guilty – directly in front of the chosen jury.
The other claim is that the jury reached an unreasonable verdict.
If the judges agree with the third ground for appeal and find the verdict was unsafe, Cardinal Pell’s convictions would be quashed and he would be released.
The defence team’s video and arraignment grounds are considered technicalities. If the judges agree with these, a retrial is likely.
If the judges uphold all convictions, Cardinal Pell’s fight to clear his name and walk free from prison could go to the High Court. If his convictions are overturned, prosecutors could also take the Court of Appeal’s ruling to the High Court.
George Pell to learn fate on August 21 (The Australian)
End looms for Pell’s legal purgatory (The Australian)