George Pell will spend tonight in jail after his bail application was withdrawn this afternoon, following a sentencing hearing in which his lawyer described one of the cardinal’s offences as “plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating”.
A statement was issued by Pell’s legal team outlining why they would not be proceeding with a bail application:
Cardinal George Pell has not applied for bail today. He believes it is appropriate from him to await sentencing.
An appeal has already been lodged to be pursued following sentence.
Despite the unprecedented media coverage, Cardinal Pell has always and continues to maintain his innocence.
Like any person he has the right to pursue his legal rights and will do so.
Pell was escorted from the Melbourne courtroom by security guards.
The cardinal’s lawyer, Robert Richter, earlier outlined the prosecution’s case in arguing for a lower-end sentence, saying that the cardinal’s offending was of a short duration and no worse than any other “plain vanilla case” of sexual penetration against a child where the child is “not participating”.
Richter also said that the offences displayed “no aggravating circumstances” – such as, for example, threats of violence – and as such necessitated lesser sentences.
It’s worth remembering that despite the fact Pell intends to appeal his conviction, Richter is required to make sentencing arguments in the terms provided by the jury’s findings, which is why he appears to be admitting guilt in his submissions. This does not mean the appeal won’t proceed – it almost certainly will.
Judge Peter Kidd did not find Richter’s arguments compelling, arguing that he considered the crimes Pell has been convicted of as being a “serious example of this kind of offending”:
That wasn’t just a trifling sexual assault. Nothing is to be gained here by comparing different forms of sexual abuse of children. Of course I need to make a judgement of the overall gravity of this. But there is a limit to these kinds of comparisons.
Pell will be taken to the Melbourne Assessment Prison on the edge of the city’s CBD. He is due to sentenced next week.