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Former Archbishop Philip Wilson wins appeal

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The Catholic Church will consider the ramifications of a court’s decision to quash former Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson’s conviction for covering up child sex abuse.

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Newcastle District Court judge Roy Ellis today upheld Wilson’s appeal against his conviction for covering up the abuse by pedophile priest James Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region.

Judge Ellis found there was reasonable doubt the clergyman had ever committed the crime.

Administrator Delegate of the Adelaide Archdiocese, Philip Marshall said the church noted the judgement and welcomed the conclusion of a process that had been long and painful for all concerned.

“We now need to consider the ramifications of this outcome,” Marshall said in a statement.

“The survivors of child sexual abuse and their families are in our thoughts and prayers, and the Archdiocese remains committed to providing the safest possible environments for children and vulnerable people in our care.”

Wilson, 68, had been ordered to serve a 12-month home detention sentence by magistrate Robert Stone.

But in granting his appeal, Judge Ellis also threw out an appeal by the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions against the leniency of the sentence.

Wilson resigned as archbishop in July but remains a bishop in the Catholic Church.

In a statement at the time, he said he came to his decision “because I have become increasingly worried at the growing level of hurt that my recent conviction has caused within the community”.

His role in Adelaide was taken over by the Apostolic Administrator of the archdiocese, Bishop Greg O’Kelly ahead of the appointment of a new archbishop by the Vatican.

– AAP

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