After a guilty verdict for child sex abuse, law experts have claimed that Cardinal George Pell has a “high chance” to win an appeal of his conviction.
Last December, Cardinal Pell was convicted by an Australian civil court on five counts of child sex abuse. However, because of a sweeping gag order imposed by the judge, the results of that trial were not widely reported until the media restriction was lifted on the 26th.
Currently, Cardinal George Pell is in maximum security prison until his sentencing on March 13th after withdrawing his application for bail: Pell “will be kept in protective custody and remain alone for up to 23 hours a day.” Pell withdrew his application for bail because he “believes it is appropriate from him to await sentencing.”
His legal team has already prepared to immediately appeal: “an appeal has already been lodged to be pursued following sentencing” on three grounds: the prohibition of video evidence in the closing address, jury composition, and unreasonableness.
Law experts have claimed an appeal on the former two would be weak, but an appeal based on unreasonableness would have “a high chance of success.” An appeal on unreasonable claims the jury gave a verdict not based on objective evidence.
“It’s not a rare grounds to succeed on. This is the defense’s best shot and carries a bonus for them in that if they win there can almost certainly be no new trial. Because once a court decides a guilty verdict is unreasonable it means they don’t think guilty should be the verdict in the next trial either. They would almost certainly acquit. Basically on this grounds of appeal, the court gets to decide if the jury got it right.”
Professor Jeremy Gans, a criminal appeals expert for University of Melbourne law school, said “their grounds of appealing on unreasonableness is solid.” Gans believes Pell has a good chance at winning the appeal because there was only one key prosecution witness, and the second victim denied being assaulted before he died.
While an appeals process typically takes eight to ten months, it is likely to be expedited in Pell’s case due to the age of and health of witnesses.
Watch below an excerpt of the video shown to jurors of the first time Cardinal Pell heard the details of the charges lodged against him, in which he called them “a load of absolute and disgraceful rubbish – completely false – madness.”