The High Court has today referred Cardinal George Pell’s application for special leave to appeal his conviction to the full bench of the High Court. This means that the full court (five or seven judges) will now decide whether to grant the special leave application in full. Pell has already served eight months of his six-year sentence, handed down after a jury found him guilty of sexually assaulting two choir boys in the 1990s.
Pell’s first appeal to the Victorian Court of Appeal was dismissed in August, with the court finding the complainant truthful, and accordingly, holding it was not unreasonable for the jury to have arrived at a guilty verdict based on the evidence at trial.
The submission presented to the High Court by Pell’s legal team primarily argues that “there did remain a reasonable doubt as to the existence of any opportunity for the offending to have occurred,” and thus, the Court of Appeal’s ruling was incorrect. Pell’s team further argues that rather than placing the burden of proving the occurrence of the offence on the prosecution, the court erroneously required Pell to prove that the offending was ‘impossible’.
The appeal to the High Court is Pell’s last chance to challenge the verdict. The full hearing of the special leave application will likely be heard next year.
You can read more about the High Court appeal process here.
The appeals process can be a complex area of law to navigate. If you need advice or representation regarding a criminal appeal, you can contact the team at Hamilton Janke Lawyers 24/7 by calling 4038 1666.