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George Pell to walk free after High Court quashes convictions

George Pell to walk free after High Court quashes convictions

The High Court of Australia has quashed George Pell’s convictions.

George Pell to walk free after High Court quashes convictions

The court’s ruling means the cardinal will be released from Victoria’s Barwon Prison today after spending more than 400 days in jail.

In its judgement the court said it had reached an unanimous decision which renders Pell’s convictions null and void.

“Today, the High Court granted special leave to appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria and unanimously allowed the appeal,” the judgement read.

“The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted, and ordered that the convictions be quashed and that verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place.”

Pell was not in the courtroom for the ruling, and was told of the decision by his lawyers.

The High Court’s judges are not travelling due to the coronavirus pandemic, so the decision was delivered by High Court Chief Justice Susan Kiefel alone.

Pell had been found guilty of five charges in December 2018, with the jury accepting evidence of one complainant that the Cardinal had sexually abused him and another choir boy at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996.

Pell has always maintained his innocence.
 
He released a statement following the ruling saying he holds “no ill will toward my accuser”.
 
“I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainty hurt and bitterness enough,” he said.

“However my trial was not a referendum on the Catholic Church; nor a referendum on how Church authorities in Australia dealt with the crime of paedophilia in the church.

“The point was whether I had committed these awful crimes, and I did not.”

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