George Pell arrives at Melbourne Magistrates' Court on historical sexual offence charges

By Emma Younger
ABC News
July 25, 2017

Cardinal George Pell was surrounded by police as he arrived at court.

A large media pack was outside the Melbourne Magistrates' Court as Cardinal Pell arrived.

There were chaotic scenes as Cardinal George Pell made his way into court, surrounded by police officers.

Several protesters were on the steps outside court ahead of Cardinal George Pell's arrival.

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Cardinal George Pell has faced Melbourne Magistrates' Court over historical sexual offence charges, with his lawyer saying he will plead not guilty.

Pell arrived at court escorted by police amid chaotic scenes as a large media scrum surrounded him and his legal team, including top criminal barrister Robert Richter QC.

He was taken through security as routine and there was a smattering of applause from a crowd inside the building.

The court room was packed with mainly media, some of whom arrived about 5:00am to secure a place in the line to enter the court.

It was Pell's first hearing after being charged by Victoria Police detectives late last month with offences involving multiple complainants.

Mr Richter told the court his client did not have to enter a plea at this stage but maintained his innocence.

"For the avoidance of doubt and because of the interest might I indicate that Cardinal Pell pleads not guilty to all charges and will maintain his presumed innocence that he has," he said.

Prosecutor Andrew Tinney SC made a brief statement at the beginning of the hearing to warn media the sub judice period had started.

"All reports should be limited to fair and accurate reports of the proceeding," he said.

Mr Tinney said the Director of Public Prosecutions had already had to write to some media organisations which it suspected had breached the rules.

The brief of evidence will be served on Pell's legal team by September 8, but Pell will not have to reappear in court until October.

The magistrate refused the media's request for access to the court file including charge sheets.

Details of the allegations have not been made public.

Pell left court alongside his lawyers with a police escort to help navigate the waiting media scrum outside.

As he walked from the court room, some of his supporters yelled: "God bless you Cardinal."

Police closed off a lane on Williams Street outside the court to make room for journalists and camera crews.

Several protesters were on the steps outside court ahead of Pell's arrival.

Pell was granted leave by the Pope to return to Australia from the Vatican for his first appearance in court.

The court has said he would not receive any special treatment.


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