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George Pell appeal court told victim was "credible, reliable"

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Evidence from George Pell’s surviving sexual assault victim was so moving it relieved any doubt the jury had about his reliability or credibility, prosecutors say.

 

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The convicted pedophile cardinal is back in court on Thursday for day two of his appeal, as he seeks to be acquitted of five child sexual abuse charges on which he was found guilty by a Melbourne jury in December.

The 77-year-old is serving a minimum three years and eight months in prison for abusing  two 13-year-old choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and one of them again in 1997.

One of the boys died in 2014 but the other gave evidence at Pell’s trial.

Senior crown prosecutor Chris Boyce QC urged the Court of Appeal to accept, as the jury did, that the man, now in his 30s, was both credible and reliable.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, Appeal Court President Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg are hearing the case.

They questioned Boyce about why they should prefer the case put by prosecutors compared to that of Pell’s trial barrister Robert Richter QC.

The latter had argued the complainant was a fantasist who had come to believe his own story, or was a calculated liar.

Boyce said the point was “simply” made by watching the evidence from beginning to end, particularly an exchange between the man and Richter.

After hearing the man’s responses “one puts down one’s pen and stares blankly at the screen and is moved,” Boyce said.

“And at that point any doubt that one might have had about the account … is relieved.”

Boyce said during a walk-through of the crime scene, recorded and shown to the jury, the man identified a spot in the middle of a room, in view of the door, where the abuse happened.

“If he was a liar or a fantasist, it would be so easy just to put it in the alcove area,” he said.

The judges have asked Boyce to address them on the effect of the time between the offending in 1996 and second incident in early 1997, the report to police in 2014 and the trial in 2018.

On Wednesday Pell’s appeal barrister Bret Walker SC told the judges that the passage of time created a “forensic disadvantage” for the cardinal, which should have been considered to his advantage by the jury.

The defence is arguing the jury’s verdicts are “unsafe and unsatisfactory” because prosecution witnesses provided exculpatory evidence including an alibi around Pell’s practice to greet parishioners after mass.

“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,” Walker said.

The hearing is expected to finish on Thursday.

-AAP

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