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Pell to walk free after High Court overturns conviction

Cardinal George Pell will be freed from jail after the High Court overturned his conviction for historic child sex offences.

7/04/2020 3:14:00 AM

Breaking Cardinal George Pell will be freed from jail after the High Court overturned his conviction for historic child sex offences

Cardinal George Pell will be freed from jail after the High Court overturned his conviction for historic child sex offences.

It will also trigger a searing examination of how Victoria’s criminal justice system allowed the case against Cardinal Pell to proceed so far on evidence which, according to the High Court, could not support a guilty verdict.Cardinal George Pell arriving at the Melbourne County Court for sentencing in 2018.

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Credit:Jason SouthThe High Court judgement, although a relief to 78-year-old Pell, leaves Australia’s most senior Catholic facing an invidious task to restore his reputation.AdvertisementThe end of criminal proceedings clears the way for the federal government to publish previously redacted royal commission findings into Pell’s conduct in Ballarat, the epicentre of historic church sex abuse.

The findings are expected to be highly critical of Pell’s failure, alongside other figures in the church in the 1970s and 80s, to stop the abuse after he learned it was happening.Cardinal Pell and the church are also facing a fresh wave of civil legal action by abuse survivors.

The High Court decision does not repudiate Pell’s accuser, a former choir boy who testified that he and a friend were allegedly indecently assaulted more than 20 years ago by Pell, then Archbishop of Melbourne, at St Patrick’s Cathedral.Pell’s senior counsel Bret Walker SC and Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC agreed in their submissions to the court that the choirboy was a credible, believable witness.

Rather, the decision exposes flaws within the rest of the prosecution case; evidence given by other witnesses at St Patrick’s at the time which raised doubts about whether Pell had an opportunity to commit the crimes he was accused of.This evidence should have caused a jury to have reasonable doubt about Pell’s guilt. It should also have caused the Court of Appeal majority, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal President Christ Maxwell, to have misgivings about the jury’s verdict.

Instead, Victoria’s highest court upheld the jury’s verdict and extended by seven months Pell’s time in jail.Supreme Court Justice Mark Weinberg, in a lengthy dissenting judgement, described the testimony of the "opportunity witnesses" as "a significant body of cogent evidence casting serious doubt upon the complainant’s account."

The former choirboy first told police in 2015 that he and a fellow chorister were indecently assaulted by Pell in 1996 after he caught them drinking altar wine in the priest’s sacristy shortly after Sunday mass.The second choir boy died of a drug overdose in 2014, having previously denied to his mother that he was abused by Pell.

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Pell was convicted in December 2018 on one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four charges of an indecent act against a child. He was sentenced to six years in jail, with a minimum of three years and eight months.Separate criminal proceedings against Pell, based on allegations by multiple witnesses that he sexually abused them at a Ballarat swimming pool nearly 50 years ago, were discontinued by the DPP.

Pell’s case before the High Court was that it was not open to a jury, on the whole of the evidence, to find him guilty as charged, and that the Victorian Court of Appeal majority erred in law by upholding the verdict.Mr Walker told the court that the approach taken by justices Ferguson and Maxwell, in weighing the testimony of the choir boy against other evidence in the case, had the effect of reversing the onus of proof.

This argument was rejected by Ms Judd, who submitted that the Court of Appeal majority properly reviewed the evidence and had left no question of law for the High Court to resolve. Ms Judd submitted to the court that, in the event of a successful appeal, the case should be remitted back to the Court of Appeal to be heard again.

Instead, the High Court ordered Pell's conviction be quashed.Pell learned of the decision from inside his isolation cell at Barwon prison, home to some of the state’s most dangerous murders and terrorists.He walks out having served more than a year behind bars for crimes he never should have been convicted of.

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At the end of the day, Pell will be held to account for his actions to his God. We must respect the ruling of the High Court, but I feel sorry for the many individuals who were brave enough to come forward. Be strong in knowing the truth. 🤬 The only possible outcome. If the High Court had not found the jury erred in failing to find reasonable doubt, Australians could be locked up willy nilly in no-evidence-he said-she said cases and justice would be damned. I hope the aggrieved plaintiffs'lawyers help them see truth

Shame on the High Court ruling This verdict does not change my opinion about the man and the Catholic Church. Read the judgment and it is exactly what his defenders have been saying all along. He was never guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Justice has finally been served Thank god. Are children expected to rape themselves?!

Evil walks free. Tbh it was always on the cards, as it was a flimsy case,maybe that’s why they chose it,a bit like prince Andrew and the 17yo surely they can do better if they really want to nail these people One thing for sure the fat lady hasn’t sung yet on Pell and the cabal of ‘alleged pedos’ What a joke! He is getting away with it laughing

I hope he keeps his testosteroneless cock firmly inside his naughty pants!! 🤬 There's so much reasonable doubt that he's innocent... This is good news. It restores trust in the Australian judiciary and gives hope that no one can be incarcerated on evidence of such poor quality, regardless of whether they committed incriminated acts or not.

I guess his god will not treat him kindly. This is a disgrace that George Pell has been released and these faceless judges should be ashamed. Time for a clean out of these so called judges. What a load of shit. The Catholic Church had so much power over families back then, they (the Bishops, Cardinals, Priests etc) most definitely took advantage of infants. The georgepell pell ‘s of the world should take a mandatory lie detector test then locked up! Sad day 2day.

A clear reminder of who controls the country. No such thing as justice. Better duck for cover Pell, you were probably safer behind bars. Gross Oxygen thief. 🖕🤓 Cardinal Pell be defrocked is crap Friends in high places “A significant possibility” ... what does that even mean? P 0.05 ? auspol Do the people get to know where he’s going.. shun him

Money church paid his way out., how dare he Huh... he worked that well.. with all that’s going on Favouritism.. disgusting.. He deserved to stay there regardless of his age.. he didn’t consider those young boys whose lives he destroyed A nice cruise holiday would be good and when they tell him to throw me a bouy he will know what to do.

Good. I wonder how much money exchanged hands in this decision 😡😔 Fricken disgraceful!!! Australia, in that respect, is pathetic. Those in high places have friends in high places who defend and protect their friends in high places I would like to see the make up of the High Court bench, how many belong to the church of pedophilia? No wonder victims do not want to come forward & report these criminals. I stand with the victims.

The original trial was a communist show trial by the People’s Democratic Republic of Victoria. This! I have no faith left. I have be abandoned by my religion and now our system of justice. This is verdict is more than depressing. What a joke The just system if littered with Paedophiles God is good and our prays worked. Congratulations for an innocent man walking free.

It was obvious to all and sundry that there was 'reasonable doubt' in the Pell case. The High Court made the only decision it could. Shameful ending to this article Horrific justice R.I.P Australia. What a shit legal system we have! Only Abbott and Jones are celebrating right now! I’m appalled Nice timing high court! People will forget this news next minute during this pandemic.

No flights to Rome for a while. I’m sure there are more charges to pursue. Victims brave. I believe you all. And you call this justice? Absolutely proves there’s no justice, rich Catholic church doing its usual cover up. We have to remember that laws are made by those in power to protect those in and with power Lord Acton, expressed this opinion to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 'Power tends to corrupt, & absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.' He called it!

Plenty of newly-minted legal scholars here I see! Really? Like what was the rationale? Gutted. Well i guess this isn't the Castle Thoughts turn immediately to his victims. Unfathomable grief. Only solace is he’ll be fighting off civil cases until he drops. He’s free. But not really. Disgusting. Is anything beyond corruption?

Well surprise, surprise. Only in Australia would this kind of bullshit happen. The Catholic Church gets away with another one. F O U N D G U I L T Y B Y A J U R Y ! PedoPell will always be PedoPell Pathetic and so disrespectful to the victims. Good luck moderating the comments given defamation laws and the Catholic church's legal eagles!

Vomiting 🤮 fuc. You All There is no justice. The rich continue to buy their way out of prisons. Victims are ignored. I hope other victims have the courage to come forward. I bet Andrew Bolt is touching himself. there is no place on earth too forbidding ........no aventure too dangerous too dare...... no dream of wealth and glory too impossible...for the man who would be Pope

😱 Many of us may not like this judgement, but we should accept the ruling if the court... bebetterthanbolt I suggest he gets a free princess cruise to northern Italy. Disgraceful! positive fyi Pontifex Disgraceful! Told you! Our government only looks after people doing the wrong thing ! Praise the lord! God knows everything

Trial by jury now dead for those with resources in my opinion I hope the Justices and Barristers are very proud of themselves ? Pedophiles look out for other pedophiles. so ... a trial by jury is now irrelevant! 👎 2020 keeps on bringing bad news. Such a shit year. the church can afford to pay a massive legal bill An ordinary priest would go to jail

I'm appalled. Absolutely disgraceful. At least he can't escape to the Vatican. Pedos with power or money always get an easier ride than your lesser status pedo. He should celebrate by going on a nice cruise. High Court of Australia is corrupt. Is it the 1st of April again? This is a fucking joke! George Pell is a paedo and was convicted by a jury.

High Court to hand down George Pell decisionAustralia's High Court will hand down its decision on disgraced Cardinal George Pell's final appeal opportunity in Brisbane on Tuesday morning. Waiting for appeal denied decision. Witches were burnt for less.. 🤔 gelatiparty

In a near-empty room on Tuesday morning, the High Court will seal George Pell's fateThere will be no crowds of victims' advocates or the Cardinal's supporters when the High Court hands down its decision on George Pell's final bid for freedom. Cease the drama. Monsters deserve no pity. Bullet behind the ear for this dirty nonce. For the victims and their families sakes, I hope this scumbag doesn’t get off tomorrow.

The high priest who used the stars to help Captain Cook make it to AustraliaHe left Tahiti to travel on the Endeavour, piloted the ship and proved himself a skilled mediator and diplomat. Without Tupaia, James Cook might have never made it to Australia. Another story proving priests are no good for peace. It's called 'navigation'. Regretfully I had never heard this tale. It's a wonderful podcast episode from RebeccaHuntley2 RadioNational and The History Listen podcast OzPodSquad podcasts history

Holy Week brings Pell's day of judgment but clutch of civil cases loomGeorge Pell will learn his fate on Tuesday morning when the High Court rules on his appeal against child-sex convictions | acooperjourno acooperjourno Go to hell pretender Pell You visited our school pretending you were holier than thou, hiding your secrets behind your robes, evidence will keep you where you belong acooperjourno Scam news media conviction no real evidence just here say of dubious vitnes never in history was anyone convicted after more than 20 years without real evidence. All orchestrated by media. acooperjourno No one believed in 1980.Only took 40 years 🤬 As per the last 2000 years the Catholic Church has blood on it's hands .... still

In a near-empty room on Tuesday morning, the High Court will seal George Pell's fateThere will be no crowds of victims' advocates or the Cardinal's supporters when the High Court hands down its decision on George Pell's final bid for freedom. Cease the drama. Monsters deserve no pity. Bullet behind the ear for this dirty nonce. For the victims and their families sakes, I hope this scumbag doesn’t get off tomorrow.

High Court to hand down George Pell decisionAustralia's High Court will hand down its decision on disgraced Cardinal George Pell's final appeal opportunity in Brisbane on Tuesday morning. Waiting for appeal denied decision. Witches were burnt for less.. 🤔 gelatiparty