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Appeal court told "impossible" for George Pell to have abused boys

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Cardinal and sex offender George Pell’s bid for freedom will continue today, as prosecutors defend a jury’s decision to convict him for sexually abusing two teenage choirboys in Melbourne in the 1990s.

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The Court of Appeal heard from Pell’s defence team on Wednesday, as the 77-year-old made a bid to be acquitted on five charges.

He’s serving a minimum three years and eight months behind bars after being sentenced to up to six years in prison in March.

Barrister Bret Walker SC told the court in the first day of the appeal application and hearing that it was “impossible” for Pell to have abused the boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996, and have molested one of them again in early 1997.

The jury’s verdicts were “unsafe and unsatisfactory” on the basis of evidence from one surviving complainant, in the face of exculpatory evidence from 20 others called by prosecutors, he said.

Among the evidence was an alibi in Pell’s practice of greeting parishioners outside the cathedral after mass, he told Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, Court of Appeal President Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg, who are hearing the case.

“If (Pell) was at the western door, then the law of physics tells us this is literally, logically impossible for the offending to have occurred according to the complainant’s account, and there is no other account,” Mr Walker said.

Pell appeared in court in person, once again wearing his clerical collar. He wore an open shirt when sentenced.

Prosecutors Chris Boyce QC and Mark Gibson QC will put their arguments to the judges on Thursday.

In written submissions they say Pell’s legal team “rather overstates in practical terms the number of planets that were required to align” for the offending to have occurred.

They said it was only required that Pell spend limited time greeting people after mass, that the boys were able to leave the choir processions and that all three were able to be undisturbed in the sacristy after mass.

“The events described by various witnesses … established that there was more than ample opportunity and circumstances for the offending, described by the complainant, to have occurred,” their submissions say.

Public interest in the case has prompted the court to live stream proceedings.

-AAP

 

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