News ID: 253368
Published: 1048 GMT May 27, 2019

Cardinal Pell will not seek reduced sentence if court upholds conviction

Cardinal Pell will not seek reduced sentence if court upholds conviction
ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE/AFP

Disgraced Cardinal George Pell will not seek a reduced sentence if the court of appeal upholds his conviction for sexually abusing two Melbourne choirboys in the 1990s.

Pell has been behind bars since February and is due to return to court next month to fight his conviction, the Guardian reported.

But he will not be adding an appeal against the six-year prison sentence handed down by the county court chief judge, Peter Kidd, in March.

Pell was ordered to serve at least three years and eight months of that sentence after being convicted by a jury in December of one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four charges of committing an indecent act with or in the presence of a child.

Pell raped one 13-year-old choirboy and sexually molested his friend in the sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996 when he was newly installed as archbishop. He molested the first boy again about a month later.

His barrister, Robert Richter QC, filed an application for appeal in February against Pell’s conviction, arguing it should be overturned on three grounds.

AAP has confirmed there will be no appeal against Pell’s sentence added to that application.

An appeal against sentence would have to argue the sentence was ‘manifestly excessive’.

Kidd acknowledged there was a real chance Pell, who will turn 78 next month, could die in jail.

The Sydney silk and specialist appeals barrister Bret Walker SC will run the appeal case on Wednesday and Thursday.

Three judges will first decide if Pell should be granted leave to appeal. If they do so, the appeal is scheduled to be heard over two days.

Pell was still free when the appeal was filed and requested to be in court. That remains the case now he is in prison.

His legal team will first argue the verdicts were ‘unreasonable’ because the jury could not have been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt Pell was guilty on the word of the single surviving complainant against ‘unchallenged exculpatory evidence’ of more than 20 prosecution witnesses.

They are also set to argue Kidd was mistaken in not allowing the defense to use a video graphic in Richter’s closing arguments, which he said would demonstrate the offending was impossible.

A third ground claims there was a ‘fundamental irregularity’ in the trial because Pell was not arraigned — asked if he pleaded guilty or not guilty — in front of the chosen jury.

If the judges accept the first ground, Pell’s conviction will be overturned and he will be released. A new trial could be ordered if they accept the second or third grounds.

Pell remains Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, but the Vatican has launched its own investigation into his convictions.

A Vatican spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, said while the verdict was ‘painful’, Pell “has the right to defend himself until the last stage of appeal”.

 

 

 

   
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