Prosecutors lodge High Court documents opposing appeal bid by George Pell

Australia
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Prosecutors will oppose the grounds of a High Court appeal bid by jailed paedophile Cardinal George Pell.

Victoria’s Office of Public Prosecutions on Tuesday confirmed they had filed a summary of their argument in response to a special leave application from Pell, lodged last month.

Pell, 78, was found guilty by a jury of the rape of a 13-year-old choirboy and sexual assault of another at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996, but Australia’s most senior Catholic has always denied any wrongdoing.

His 12-page application to the High Court – the first step in his final bid for freedom – included that consenting judges overseeing his previous appeal erred in their finding.

Victoria’s Court of Appeal in August upheld Pell’s convictions by two votes to one.

But his lawyers say a mistake occurred because Pell was required to prove the offending was impossible, rather than leaving that onus to prosecutors.

Secondly, they argue the judges erred in not finding the jury’s verdicts unreasonable, claiming there was reasonable doubt about whether opportunity existed for the crimes to have occurred.

They also claim that changes in the law over the decades since the crimes occurred make it more difficult to test sex assault allegations.

Cardinal George Pell faces the media during his trial.

They argue Pell should be acquitted of all charges for several reasons including inconsistencies in the complainant’s version of events.

But Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC has challenged Pell’s grounds in Tuesday’s summary.

The High Court will consider Pell’s special leave application documents in conjunction with Ms Judd’s submission and permit or deny the motion.

If leave is granted, Pell will need to lodge a formal appeal.

The process can take up to six months and is sometimes completed behind closed doors.

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