Cardinal Pell appeal hearing set for March

Cardinal George Pell (CNS/Stefan Postles, Reuters)

The High Court has set a date to hear Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his convictions for abusing two choirboys in 1996 while he was Archbishop of Melbourne. Source: ABC News.

The case will be heard on March 11 and 12 in Canberra.

Cardinal Pell, 78, was convicted on five charges — one count of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act with, or in the presence of, a child. In March last year he was sentenced to six years’ jail, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.

In August, two of three judges from Victoria’s Court of Appeal turned down Cardinal Pell’s primary ground of appeal, that the jury’s verdict was unreasonable. The judges unanimously dismissed two other grounds of appeal which argued that there were errors in the way the trial was run.

The High Court case will be the cardinal’s final chance to seek to have his convictions overturned.

The Age reports that Cardinal Pell will have spent almost one year to the day behind bars when his case goes in front of the full bench.

On November 13, Cardinal Pell cleared a hurdle when the High Court announced it would refer his application to appeal his convictions to the court’s full bench.

That does not mean that Cardinal Pell won the right to appeal. What it did mean was that his lawyers could prepare for a hearing before all seven judges in March, when the High Court might reject Pell’s leave to appeal or it might allow the appeal to proceed.

After hearing legal arguments, the High Court could refuse or approve Cardinal Pell’s application. It could also allow or dismiss the appeal.

Media will not be able to use devices such as laptops or mobile phones in the hearings, but the proceedings will be live-streamed for reporters to spill into other courtrooms.

FULL STORY

George Pell High Court appeal hearing date set for March (ABC News)

High Court sets the date for George Pell's final appeal (The Age)

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Prosecutors drop more George Pell contempt charges against media (The Australian

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