Pell’s silent walk through media scrum
DISGRACED cardinal George Pell has arrived for a sentencing hearing to chaotic scenes as an angry mob screamed abuse at him outside Melbourne County court.
Pell's lawyers are pushing for a retrial - or for the cardinal's child sex convictions to be set aside.
His legal team applied for leave to appeal his convictions with the Court of Appeal on February 21, Robert Richter QC told Victoria's County Court on Tuesday.
As Pell stepped out of a car to enter court this morning, he was met by an angry crowd, and a large local and international media contingent. Melbourne journalist Nathan Templeton described the scene as "intense and quite frightening" after about a dozen members of the public jeered at the cardinal.
The court heard there will be two victim impact statements tendered as Pell sat emotionless in the dock flanked by three uniformed officers.
Magistrate chief Judge Peter Kidd told the court he would accept the statement from the father of one of the victims.
"A parent, when a child is the victim of a crime, then the impact, distress that would cause is self evident and almost inevitable," he said.
"My view would be that a parent could stand as a victim in those circumstances."
Prosecutors read through details of Pell's offending. Crown Prosecutor Mark Gibson said that what happened inside St Patrick's Cathedral in 1996 constituted a "breach of trust" and "serious offending".
"Given the age and status (of the victims), it puts them in a position of being vulnerable," Mr Gibson said.
"These acts were in our submission humiliating and degrading towards each boy and gave rise to the stress in each boy.
"(There was) a degree of callous indifference by the cardinal."
Judge Kidd said the cardinal "thought he was going to get away with it".
"In his mind, he thought he would get away with it. In his mind, he possessed impunity," he said.
Judge Kidd said he would aim to "deter others" in his sentencing and that Cardinal Pell is "very unlikely to reoffend".
Pell's guilty verdict was made public on Tuesday after months of secrecy surrounding the trial.
He was convicted in December of orally raping one choirboy in Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral and molesting another in 1996.
Mr Richter said the appeal application was made on three grounds, firstly that the verdict of the jury was unreasonable and contrary to evidence.
He said he'd also argue there should be a retrial, on the grounds a graphic he wanted to use in the trial was rejected - and that there was a problem with the way the jury was constituted.
The Court of Appeal will hear the application for leave to appeal at a date to be confirmed.
If leave is granted, an appeal hearing may then proceed.
Pell may be remanded in custody when he returns to court in Melbourne today.
He had been newly appointed Archbishop of Melbourne when he committed the crimes.
Mr Gibson said the two choristers were found drinking sacramental wine when the cardinal commenced the "brazen, forceful" sexual assault.
"Shortly after Pell came upon the offenders, he committed an indecent act upon (one of the victims).
"This involved placing the boy's face or head in proximity to his genital region. A short time after this, he sexually penetrated (the other boy). He then committed another indecent act … this involved touching the boy's genitalia. While this was occurring, Pell touched his own genitalia."
Mr Gibson said a month after the first incident, one of the boys was approached again in a back corridor.
"Cardinal Pell pushed himself again (the boy) and squeezed his genitalia for a brief period."
The jurors returned a unanimous verdict as part of a retrial following a hung jury in September.
However, a suppression order prevented media reporting details of the trial until the gag was lifted on Tuesday morning.
Pell, who has been on bail throughout the proceedings, may be taken into custody when he returns to the County Court of Victoria on Wednesday.
Now Australia's highest-ranking Catholic, the Vatican treasurer was granted extra time on bail over the festive season to have double knee replacement surgery in Sydney.
He had become increasingly frail and had difficulty walking unassisted throughout his trial.
On Wednesday, Pell is due to face Chief Judge Peter Kidd for a plea hearing, where pre-sentencing submissions will be presented by both crown and defence legal teams.
Lawyers for Pell, who maintains his innocence, have lodged an application for leave to appeal the convictions.
On Tuesday, Mr Richter accepted a prison sentence was inevitable but said he intended to appeal on three grounds, including that the jury verdict was unreasonable as it was contrary to the evidence.
The historical offences each carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
- With wires