The decision on George Pell‘s appeal will be handed down by the Victorian Court of Appeals next Wednesday, which will determine whether the disgraced cardinal remains in prison on child sexual abuse charges.
A jury found Pell guilty last December on charges related to the sexual abuse of two choirboys when he was archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s, and the appeal process has been ongoing since then.
Unlike in the original criminal trial, there is no jury in the appeal. Instead, three judges – Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, Justice Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg – are deciding the appeal outcome, which will be live-streamed.
There are three possible outcomes here. The judges could uphold Pell’s guilty verdict, they could order a retrial, or they could quash the cardinal’s conviction altogether.
Central to Pell’s appeal is the allegation two serious errors were made in his trial. The first is that he was not arraigned, meaning he did not enter his not guilty plea directly in front of the jury.
Secondly, Pell’s legal team argue that Judge Peter Kidd should have allowed the defence to play a 19-minute long video which uses animation to depict the position of various people in the Melbourne cathedral at the time the alleged crimes took place. The judge did not allow this video after the prosecution argued it would confuse the jury into thinking it was a 100% accurate reconstruction.
Pell’s team is also arguing that the jury reached an unreasonable verdict. They say that there was insufficient evidence to prove Pell’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
If Pell’s appeal is unsuccessful, he will remain behind bars for at least three years, which is when he becomes eligible for parole.Image: AAP