Accused sex offender named Neville Pell denies he is related to Cardinal George Pell after first saying they are family

By Steve Butcher
June 3, 2015

'No relation' to Cardinal George Pell. Accused sex offender Neville Pell outside court.
Photo by Justin McManus

An alleged child sex offender named Neville George Pell has denied he is related to Cardinal George Pell after a Melbourne court heard he told investigating police they were linked.

In a sworn statement tendered to Melbourne Magistrates Court, a detective said when a colleague asked Mr Pell in February last year if he was related to "George Pell" he replied: "Yes, f---ing hypocrite."

But after being committed on Wednesday to stand trial on eight charges, Mr Pell, 69, told Fairfax Media outside court he was not related to Cardinal Pell, but had "always referred to George as cousin George because he's a Pell".

He pleaded not guilty to the charges, which included two of rape and two of taking part in acts of sexual penetration with a child under 16.

After a contested committal hearing, magistrate Johanna Metcalf found there was evidence of sufficient weight to support convictions on the charges.

It was alleged that Mr Pell had abused a 14-year-old boy who was severely cognitively impaired after he sustained a brain injury in a car accident when he was three-and-a-half years old.

The court heard the alleged victim was assaulted in August 2002, when Mr Pell was employed for three months as a high needs personal carer for the boy.

His mother and other witnesses were earlier cross-examined by defence barrister Aggy Kapitaniak, who on Wednesday - at the end of the committal - made no submissions or called any evidence.

Prosecutor Ruth Champion later opposed an application by Fairfax Media for access to materials in the police hand-up brief out of concern that publicity of the matter may seriously distress the alleged victim.

Ms Champion said witnesses had reported that the young man had "intrusive thoughts" about the accused man and his levels of distress were heightened at the thought of Mr Pell.

Ms Kapitaniak said she could not realistically oppose the application but asked that details of her client's address not be published.

Ms Metcalf later released redacted copies of the prosecution summary, charge sheets and the statement of the lead investigator Detective Senior Constable Matthew Merrifield.

In that statement, Detective Merrifield said that after speaking to the alleged victim he and Detective Sergeant Brendan Butland and another colleague attended Mr Pell's home on February 14 last year.

When asked by Detective Butland if he had had sex with the boy, Detective Merrifield said Mr Pell replied: No for f---s sake."

Detective Merrifield said Mr Pell had responded in his presence and hearing "yes, yes f---ing hypocrite" when Detective Butland asked him if he was related to George Pell.

Mr Pell was bailed on conditions that he live at a fixed address and not contact prosecution witnesses, apart from Detective Merrifield, and to appear later this month at a directions hearing in the County Court.


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