Cardinal George Pell has spent his first night in a cell in a segregation unit at a maximum-security jail in the centre of Melbourne alongside infamous murderers.
The 77-year-old, who was convicted in December of child sex attacks against two choirboys, was dramatically led away by guards at the end of a pre-sentence hearing on Wednesday at the County Court of Victoria.
Due to his high profile and the nature of his crimes, sources have confirmed to The New Daily he is being held in the segregation unit of Melbourne Assessment Prison, commonly referred to as MAP.
The unit is known as ‘sep, sep’ among staff working at the prison and Pell will spend 23 hours a day in his cell.
“That’s because it’s the highest form of segregation in the prison,” the source said.
Fellow inmates in the prison include Bourke Street killer James Gargasoulas and murderer Jaymes Todd, who killed Eurydice Dixon.
Food, cooked fresh daily by fellow prisoners in the kitchens for a small wage, will be delivered to Pell’s cell.
“Otherwise his days will only be broken up by walking around an exercise yard or going to the gym in the one hour he is allowed out,” the source said.
The prison is based on Spencer Street in Melbourne’s CBD, near the County Court of Victoria, where a jury found Pell guilty in December.
Pell will not see any other prisoners while in segregation. He will only see prison staff.
“Once publicity dies down he might be transferred to the next unit below segregation, which is called the protection unit which contains about 12 inmates. But it might be some time before that happens.
“Obviously the biggest risk is from the other inmates, who often target pedophiles in any violent means possible.”
Once Pell has been formally sentenced by Justice Peter Kidd on March 13, he is likely to be transferred to a Victorian jail.
Legal experts have told The New Daily they expect he will be sentenced to serve between six and 14 years in prison.
It’s understood Pell may find himself at one of two medium-security prisons suited to his crime and his age.
“They won’t put him in Barwon Prison or Port Phillip firstly because he isn’t exactly dangerous to other inmates at his age and also because he would be at great risk from the other prisoners,” the source said.
Only recently, drug king pin Tony Mokbel narrowly survived a stabbing attack at Barwon.
One option for Corrections Victoria would be Hopkins Correctional Centre (HCC) which is located at Ararat, 200 kilometres west of Melbourne in the Grampians region.
The prison is described on its website as providing medium-security accommodation for prisoners with protection requirements, including a number of sex offenders and some remand prisoners.
“The prison includes single, double and triple-bed accommodation and cottage accommodation, a unit for aged, and medically infirm prisoners, as well as eight beds for offenders on continued detention,” the website says.
The other possible option for correction bosses is to send Pell to the adjoining Ararat Prison.
Part of the jail houses a large number of pedophiles, including his former housemate Gerald Ridsdale, in an area dubbed by locals as the “village of the damned”.
Whatever prison Pell is placed in, it will be far cry from his well-appointed apartment just outside the Vatican in Rome.