The Pell appeal: where to from here
Cardinal Pell now awaits the decision of the three-judge Court of Appeals of Victoria’s Supreme Court after two days of presentations by his defence team and by the Prosecution.
Pell is serving a six year jail term after being convicted for sexually abusing two choirboys in 1996 and 1997 when he was Archbishop of Melbourne.
The defence’s appeal, argued primarily by Bret Walker, SC and defence barrister Ruth Shann, consists of three grounds:
(i) that the verdict was unreasonable because of 13 points that individually or combined give rise to reasonable doubt.
(ii) that the judge who presided over Pell’s trial should have allowed the jury to see an animated presentation of where the witnesses were in the cathedral at the time of offending
(iii) that Cardinal Pell was not arraigned in the presence of potential jurors.
On the first point, should the three judges rule that the guilty verdict was unreasonable, Cardinal Pell will be acquitted and immediately released from jail.
Should the judges find that the guilty verdicts were reasonable, but accept either of the other two grounds, a new trial may be ordered in the County Court.
Prosecutor Chris Boyce QC argued that the complainant’s evidence was “not only plausible, it was credible, clear and entirely believable as is reflected in the jury’s verdict”.
At approximately 4.15pm today [Thursday June 6], on completion of submissions, Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Ferguson adjourned the hearing and advised that she and the other two judges (Court of Appeal President, Justice Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg) would reserve their decision. It is expected that the decision will be announced within the next few weeks.
Cardinal Pell attended both days of the appeal which was live-streamed online. A number of his relatives and supporters were also in the full courtroom for the hearing, as were abuse survivor advocates and journalists.