The High Court will hand down its judgment on Cardinal George Pell’s appeal next Tuesday in what will be his last chance of freedom. Source: The Australian.
By John Ferguson, The Australian
The court announced yesterday via Twitter that the judgment would be delivered in Brisbane, with several scenarios possible including that he walks free from Victoria’s Barwon Prison soon after 10am.
Cardinal Pell, 78, has not spoken publicly since he was charged in 2017 with sexually assaulting two choirboys at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997.
The charges have been stridently contested by the Cardinal’s legal team, which has included two of Australia’s most respected barristers — Bret Walker SC and Robert Richter QC.
There are several options that could flow from the judgment, including potential early release, or even being referred back to the Victorian Court of Appeal.
However, the court has not yet declared whether it has even accepted the appeal, argument for which was heard last month before the full bench.
Cardinal Pell was convicted in 2019 of five sex abuse charges against the two 13-year-old choirboys, leading to a six-year jail term. He has maintained his innocence, saying he did not abuse the children in St Patrick’s Cathedral, and is said to have been shocked that the matters progressed past the County Court trials in Melbourne.
The full bench was asked last month to acquit Cardinal Pell of five charges of molesting the two 13-year-olds in 1996 and 1997 while Archbishop of Melbourne. Experts have predicted a possible acquittal as Mr Walker effectively asked the full bench to free his client.
Cardinal Pell is being kept in Barwon Prison, having been transferred from Melbourne’s assessment prison, where he was held in solitary confinement before being shifted amid security concerns. Unless cleared by the High Court, he will serve a minimum of three years and eight months.
High Court to rule on Pell’s final freedom bid (The Australian)