Hearing Focuses on Cardinal Pell's Movements after Mass
By Shannon Deery
Herald-Sun via CathNews
March 12, 2020
|How long did George Pell spend on the steps of St Patrick’s Cathedral after Mass? That single unanswered question has emerged as central to the convicted cardinal’s fight for freedom. Source: Herald-Sun.|
Much of yesterday’s High Court hearing focused on the issue with Bret Walker, SC, arguing Cardinal Pell routinely spent 10 or more minutes on the steps after Mass.
Mr Walker told the court if it was accepted that this occurred, it would have been impossible for him to offend.
For four-and-a-half hours Mr Walker spelled out Cardinal Pell’s appeal arguments, discussing evidence and acute legal points at length, before a full bench of the court.
But the court kept coming back to Cardinal Pell’s post-mass routine, and whether or not he would have had the time to commit the offences of which a jury found him guilty.
Cardinal Pell was convicted of sexually assaulting two choir boys, while Archbishop of Melbourne, in the sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral after mass in the 1990s.
His appeal against the Victorian Court of Appeal majority decision to uphold his convictions is his final bid to prove his long maintained innocence.
The state’s most senior judges, Supreme Court justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal president Chris Maxwell, found it was open to the jury to find the assaults took place.
“The jury were not bound to have a reasonable doubt,” they found.
But Mr Walker stridently argued they were wrong to do so saying their “piecemeal” approach wrongly concluded that a list of compounding improbabilities, described by Cardinal Pell’s team as impossible, were indeed not impossible.
That sent “the inquiry off in a terribly damaging wrong route,” he argued.
Much was made about the weight the majority in the Court of Appeal placed upon the credibility of the witnesses.
Mr Walker argued the majority allowed their belief in the credibility of the witness to overshadow other critical evidence.
Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd, QC, will respond to the Pell submissions today.