The Pell appeal: What to expect

The Victorian Court of Appeal will announce it’s decision on Wednesday morning on whether it will overturn Cardinal George Pell’s convictions for sexually abusing two choirboys.

Three judges are examining Pell’s appeal.

The appeal proceedings will be live streamed on the Supreme Court of Victoria’s website.

If the court finds the jury got it wrong, Pell could walk free.

Alternatively, they could order a retrial, in which case Pell will be released on bail.

A third option, is that the appeal judges could reject Pell’s appeal.

An earlier trial ended in a deadlocked jury.

No matter what verdict the appeal court arrives at, according to news sources Pell’s case is considered likely to end up in the High Court, Australia’s final arbiter.

“The verdicts represent a disturbing failure of our jury system,” Pell’s lawyers said in written submission to the appeal court.

“It is accepted that juries can and do, at times, render perverse verdicts which are unsupported by the evidence as a whole and are thus contrary to law,” .

They say the alleged abuse in 1996 as described in the prosecution case was “improbable and even impossible”.

Prosecutors said evidence of more than 20 priests, choristers, altar servers and church officials show there are “possible hindrances” to the prosecution case, but these did not preclude the jury from being satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of Pell’s guilt.

In addition, prosecutor Chris Boyce described the complainant as a “very compelling witness, … was was clearly not a liar…not a fantasist. He was a witness of truth,”.

Pell did not testify at either of his trials. He rejected the allegations as “absolutely disgraceful rubbish” and a “deranged falsehood.”

One of the boys he allegedly abused died of a heroin overdose in 2014 at the age of 31 without ever complaining he had been abused. The other made his accusations after that time.

Pell, who is 78, was convicted last December on five counts of abusing the boys when he was the bishop of Melbourne in the 1990s. He has consistently denied all the charges.

He was sentenced to six years imprisonment in March for his child-abuse convictions. He has been in jail since then.

The appeals court heard his arguments against the five convictions in early June.


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