Prosecutors respond to jailed George Pell’s appeal bid

Victoria’s Office of Public Prosecutions has filed a summary of their argument against jailed cardinal George Pell’s “special leave to appeal” application.

The director of public prosecutions, Kerri Judd QC, has challenged Pell’s grounds to appeal to the High Court.

December 2018: Pell found guilty in the County Court of Victoria on five charges related to sexual assault of two boys in the 1990s.

March 2019: Pell sentenced to six years in prison; appeals to the Victorian Court of Appeal.

August: Appeal court dismisses appeal by a majority of two to one.

September: Pell’s lawyers sought leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia.

Special leave to appeal application

Judd’s summary to the High Court says there was no error in the Appeal court’s majority decision to uphold Pell’s conviction.

She says the Cardinal’s legal team failed to raise any important question of law in the application for special leave to appeal.

Furthermore,  Appeal court Justice Mark Weinberg’s dissenting view isn’t grounds for appeal.

“The mere fact that Weinberg JA has taken a different view of the evidence to the majority does not justify intervention by the High Court.

“The [special leave to appeal] identifies no error in the majority approach and no question of law for this court to resolve;

“it does no more than ask this court to substitute for the view taken by the majority and the jury a different view of the evidence.”

Pell’s lawyers say a mistake occurred because Pell, rather than the prosecutors, was required to prove the offending was impossible.

They also argue the judges erred in not finding the jury’s verdicts unreasonable. They say there was reasonable doubt about whether opportunity existed for the crimes to have occurred.

They also say changes in law over the decades since the crimes occurred make it more difficult to test sex assault allegations.

Other concerns Pell’s legal team has include inconsistencies in the complainant’s version of events.

The High Court will consider Pell’s special leave application documents in conjunction with Judd’s submission. The Court will then say if it will permit or deny the motion.

If leave is granted, Pell will need to lodge a formal appeal. The process can take up to six months and is sometimes completed behind closed doors.


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