George Pell’s day of reckoning: Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic arrives at court to find out if he’ll face jail while he awaits sentencing for raping a 13-year-old choirboy and molesting another
Paedophile priest George Pell hobbled into court today after he was found guilty of molesting two choirboys.
The 77-year-old, who was third in command of the Catholic Church and the highest ranked priest ever convicted, arrived at the County Court of Victoria for a pre-sentencing hearing.
Surrounded by police officers and camera crews, he staggered into the courthouse using a stick after a double knee replacement.
Paedophile priest George Pell hobbled into court today after he was found guilty of molesting two choirboys
Pell, who has been on bail since he was charged in June 2017, may be taken into custody after the pre-sentencing hearing today.
But he could be free by the afternoon because he is applying for bail while he appeals his conviction in the Court of Appeal.
Pell was found guilty by a jury in December of raping a 13-year-old choirboy in 1996 and molesting another at St Patrick’s Cathedral in east Melbourne.
He had been newly appointed Archbishop of Melbourne when he committed the crimes.
The jurors returned a unanimous verdict after of a retrial following a hung jury in September.
The media was unable to report the conviction until a second trial was abandoned on Tuesday morning.
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 faces 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, Pell’s lawyer Robert Richter QC 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.