• Cardinal George Pell was released from prison on April 7, 2020 after the High Court quashed his five convictions for child sexual abuse.
Disgraced Cardinal George Pell won’t seek a reduced sentence if the Court of Appeal upholds his conviction for sexually abusing two Melbourne choirboys in the 1990s.
Pell has been behind bars since February and is due to return to court next month to fight his conviction.
But he won’t be adding an appeal against the six-year prison sentence handed down by County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd in March.
Pell was ordered to serve at least three years and eight months of that sentence after being convicted by a jury in December of one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four charges of committing an indecent act with or in the presence of a child.
Pell raped one 13-year-old choirboy and sexually molested his friend in the sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996 when he was newly-installed as Archbishop.
He molested the first boy again about a month later.
His barrister Robert Richter QC filed an application for appeal in February against Pell’s conviction, arguing it should be overturned on three grounds.
AAP has confirmed there will be no appeal against Pell’s sentence added to that application.
An appeal against sentence would have to argue the sentence was “manifestly excessive”.
Judge Kidd acknowledged there was a real chance Pell, who will turn 78 next month, could die in jail
Sydney silk and specialist appeals barrister Bret Walker SC will run the appeal case on June 5 and 6.
Three judges will first decide if Pell should be granted leave to appeal and, if so, the appeal is scheduled to be heard over two days.
Pell was still free when the appeal was filed and requested to be in court. That remains the case now he is in prison.
His legal team will first argue the verdicts were “unreasonable” because the jury could not have been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt Pell was guilty on the word of the single surviving complainant against “unchallenged exculpatory evidence” of more than 20 prosecution witnesses.
They are also set to argue Judge Kidd was mistaken in not allowing the defence to use a video graphic in Mr Richter’s closing arguments, which he said would demonstrate the offending was impossible.
A third ground claims there was a “fundamental irregularity” in the trial because 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.
Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said while the verdict was “painful”, Pell “has the right to defend himself until the last stage of appeal”.