News National George Pell to find out his jail cell fate

George Pell to find out his jail cell fate

George Pell has appealed against his child sex abuse convictions. Photo: Getty
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• Cardinal George Pell was released from prison on April 7, 2020 after the High Court quashed his five convictions for child sexual abuse.

Convicted child sex offender George Pell will on Wednesday morning find out his fate – likely a prison cell – as a court hears how the senior Catholic’s sex crimes forever altered the lives of his young victims.

Pell is expected to return to the docks at the County Court of Victoria before Chief Judge Peter Kidd, whose sentencing remarks will be broadcast live on television, radio and news sites from 10am.

It’s a case that has gripped much of the world, and as such, Judge Kidd has made the rare decision to allow a film crew into the room.

The County Court has warned space would be tight, with crowds of spectators, journalists, victim advocates and Pell supporters expected to be vying for a seat to witness history.

A unanimous decision by a jury in the case against Pell in December made him the most senior Catholic to be found guilty of child sex crimes.

He denies any wrongdoing, and the Court of Appeal will consider a legal challenge in June.

The New Daily sat in for the full trial, and related hearings, documenting every day in the recently published series, The Pell diaries.

Legal experts have told TND they expect Pell could be sentenced to serve between six and 14 years in prison.

For his latest court appearance, guards will transport the 77-year-old prisoner by van into the underground cells and escort him up through the bowels of the Melbourne city building, into courtroom 3.3.

Legal sources said Pell would be free to choose his attire, rather than be dressed in prison greens, and he will likely be without handcuffs.

Usually only prisoners considered dangerous or a risk of fleeing would remain shackled as they entered the room.

Judge Kidd’s sentencing remarks would detail the impact on victims, but names and other details removed to protect their identities.

Pell was found guilty in December of five offences against two choirboys, aged 13 and 12 at the time of the offences, at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne.

The only surviving victim had told police the then-Archbishop of Melbourne had abused the pair after Sunday mass in 1996.

Pell was also found guilty of sexually assaulting one of the boys on a separate occasion.

The court has confirmed the ABC will broadcast footage and audio of the sentencing live, but said only Judge Kidd would be visible and the film crew would not be able to focus on Pell or others in the room.

“The County Court is committed to the principles of open justice. Chief Judge Peter Kidd’s sentencing remarks in this matter will be broadcast live,” a court spokesman said in a statement on Monday.