Australian cardinal won’t fight sentence if he loses appeal

Trevor Marshallsea


In this Feb. 26, 2019, file photo, Cardinal George Pell arrives at the County Court in Melbourne,

Australia. An Australian court spokesman says Pell will not fight for a reduced jail sentence if he fails in his appeal of his conviction for molesting two choirboys in the 1990s. (Credit: Andy Brownbill/AP.)

SYDNEY, Australia – Disgraced Australian Catholic cardinal George Pell will not fight for a reduced jail sentence if he fails in his appeal of his conviction for molesting two choirboys in the 1990s, a court spokesman said Monday.

The 77-year-old Pell – the most senior Catholic official convicted of sex abuse – was sentenced in a Melbourne court in March to six years in prison. He must serve at least three years and eight months of the term.

Pell will appeal his conviction next month. His lawyers have filed an application arguing it should be overturned on three grounds.

But the application does not include an appeal of the length of the sentence, Andre Awadalla, a spokesman for the Court of Appeal in Victoria state, told the Associated Press.

“The only appeal application filed on the matter is an appeal against conviction,” Awadalla said. “His lawyers haven’t filed an appeal in relation to sentence.”

In sentencing Pell in March, Victorian County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd acknowledged that there was a real chance that Pope Francis’s former finance minister could die in jail.
Pell was convicted by a unanimous jury verdict in December on one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four charges of committing an indecent act with or in the presence of a child.

He was found guilty of raping a 13-year-old choirboy and sexually molesting his 13-year-old friend in the sacristy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996, months after he became archbishop of the city. He molested the first boy again about a month later. One of his victims later died of a heroin overdose at the age of 31.

Pell’s appeal application is set down for hearing on June 5 and 6, with three judges to first decide whether he should be granted leave to appeal.
His legal team will first argue that the verdicts were “unreasonable” since the jury could not have been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Pell was guilty based on the word of the surviving victim against

“unchallenged exculpatory evidence” of more than 20 prosecution witnesses.

Pell’s lawyers are also expected to argue that Judge Kidd erred in not allowing them to use a video graphic in their closing arguments, which they said would demonstrate the offending that was alleged would have been impossible.

The third ground details an alleged “fundamental irregularity” in the trial in that Pell was not arraigned – asked if he pleaded guilty or not guilty – in front of the chosen jury.

If the judges accept the first ground, Pell’s conviction will be overturned and he will be released.

A new trial could be ordered if they accept the second or third grounds.
While Pell remains Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, the Vatican has launched its own investigation into his convictions.


George Pell has spent three months in prison.

If he appeal fails he will spend another three years and five months in his cell?

He had always upheld his innocence.

Having watched the long TV programme about his time in Ballarat I was convinced of his guilt.

Of course I could be very wrong.

There are lots of famous and ordinary people who believe he is innocent.

Its interesting that his lawyers are not appealing his sentence.

The reason for that I imagine is that if he did appeal his sentence the appeal court could increase his sentence.

A three year, eight month sentence was very light for offences including child rape.

What does this blog’s readers think?

Is Pell guilty or innocent?


However, he should NOT have been convicted on the uncorroborated word of a witness.


I believe he is innocent and that the unreasonable verdict will be overturned. The complainant seems to have been inspired by a Rolling Stones account of a trial which sent 3 priests and a teacher to jail and was later shown to be a hoax.
I think today’s post is a non-story, since the Appeal never had anything to do with sentencing. If the appeal succeeds then of course a further appeal about the sentencing will be unnecessary. The only new item of information is that Pell says he would not attempt to lodge such an appeal, which could invite a heavier sentence.


Pell is probably guilty but it’s likely he’ll win the appeal. He’ll claim he was always innocent, the laity will foot costs and Pell will fade into obscurity most likely in Rome.


Even if Pell is acquitted, he will never return to Rome. Too many of his former associates there will know the truth of the matter. And, anyway, there is also a civil case pending against him.


None of us can be confident that Pell is guilty or innocent. The question is whether he has been properly
The third ground of appeal (failure to arraign in the presence of the jury) appears to be technical and wholly unmeritorious.
The second ground (exclusion of the video graphic) may have a little more traction but, placed in the
context of a massive volume of evidence (pointing both ways), it is difficult to see that the showing of the
video would have produced a different result. So that ground should also fail.
The first ground (verdict against the weight of the evidence) is the heart of the appeal. For reasons which have been canvassed in various publications (not all of them likely to have a pro-Pell bias), there does seem to be an inherent improbability in the complainant’s story. Notwithstanding the respect which appeal courts rightly pay to the verdict of a jury, I think that Pell has a fighting chance of success on this first ground.
One supplementary point, and an ironic one. This was a retrial after the jury at the first trial disagreed.
It has been widely reported that the first jury was split 10-2 for an acquittal. A majority verdict is acceptable in
Victoria only if it is supported by 11 jurors. If the report is accurate, Pell would have been acquitted on a
trial in England and Wales where 10-2 suffices, or in Scotland where a simple majority of the 15-member jury is enough.


No; none of us can be confident of Pell’s guilt or innocence, but we can be persuaded of it beyond reasonable doubt. Which, really, is all a court of law requires of a jury, and all a jury need satisfy itself with.


At 12:30 p.m. Well said and thank you for the razor-sharp analysis, and especially for identifying the issue of whether or not the conviction was properly effected.


Pat, can we please have another Scottie Day as soon as poss? The last one was so enjoyable and edifying. Sure you’d miss all the wee Scotties.


@Chris 1:02pm. Inspector Hamish McTaggart is investigating. We are all on tenterhooks awaiting his dossier. Do try and keep up, Chris.


If Inspector McTaggart is to believed then Bishop Toal will dismiss any clergy involved but cannot same the same about Cardinal Nicolls he will just likely move them around.

Be interesting if anything comes of this as + Toal must take action giving his credibility.


Pat, updates. We need updates. UPDATES!!!

There’s people walking the floor at night for the want of updates.

There’s men have taken to their beds for the lack of updates!

There’s folk have had to go to the doctors for nerve tablets because there’s no UPDATES!

There’s lads down the pub having a liquid lunch because they are being deprived of the essential updates.

There’s women and men comfort eating as we speak trying to get over the absence of updates!!

There’s poor crathers spending all their hard-earned dough buying stuff compulsively on to compensate themselves for no UPDATES!

There’s a man shouting at his poor wee dog in Ballymena because he’s all annoyed that there’s no updates.

Updates, Pat. For the love of God and for crying out loud, we need UPDATES.


It is a well known fact that there are NO homosexualists in Scotch Land. All Scotch men are fine big manly fellows covered head to foot in ginger hair. The homosexualist slur is a lie spawned in the South of England. Fie upon them! Fie upon them! Slanderers!


Och noo Inspector nae yoo mind hae a am wee hen. Dinne yoo worry yer wee sell.

Just yoo stick til reetin up yer wee report on them big yins up the field o’ Loordes noo wee hen 🤣


Let us all congratulate Professor Mullaney on being elected president of the Federation of Catholic Universities in Europe!


Pat Mullaney on a high after the presidential election tis a great honour for the hole college says Mullaney Pat


Actually, Magna darling, mummy has some very fond memories of holidays spent in Scotland. Before your father and you came along of course.
Do you remember how when you were very young, if I wanted you to do something I would tell you Our Lady had appeared to me and said that you must do it? No wonder you grew up with a rather twisted sense of reality, when I kept telling you that Our Lady had appeared and said you must wash behind your ears!


I do indeed remember, dearest; I just wish it hadn’t taken me to my twenties to find out that those apparitions weren’t real.😕
But what of the all-seeing eye you put up on my bedroom wall? That picture. You told me it was just a visible assurance that God was watching over me…and over anything I did there. (I never could understand that last reference.)
Honestly dearest, all I ever did in my bedroom was say my night prayers, and sleep.😇


Magna! Mummy told you never to tell anyone about what you did in your bedroom!
It’s slightly awful in retrospect but I used to laugh with my friends from the Union of Catholic Mothers about the tales you would swallow. I once told you the Pope had decreed that boys should do their homework. Because I said it was in L’Osservatore Romano you accepted it and got very worried when Rose of Lima, our spaniel, ate the exercise book!


I tell you folks that old Carta gal is one smoking hot hottie. When you see old Maw Carta (picture an even more luscious Barbara Cartland) sashaying along, you can see immediately where her little Magna gets its looks and glamour. I wonder would they be interested in a threesome? 😏


Magna’s Mum is priceless! I love the spaniel named Rose of Lima! More please! In the absence of reports from Westminster Diocese and still no news of Daniel’s whereabouts, I haven’t laughed so much since some little tinker claimed to have posted a photo of Elsie’s caravan.


It would be a travesty if he got off, Bp Pat.
Remember what Francis said: “Behind rigidity, something always lies hidden. In many cases, a double life.”


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