Cardinal Pell convictions quashed

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PELL v THE QUEEN [2020] HCA 12

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 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.

The applicant sought leave to appeal against his convictions before the Court of Appeal. On 21 August 2019 the Court of Appeal granted leave on a single ground, which contended that the verdicts were unreasonable or could not be supported by the evidence, and dismissed the appeal. The Court of Appeal viewed video-recordings of a number of witnesses’ testimony, including that of the complainant. The majority, Ferguson CJ and Maxwell P, assessed the complainant to be a compelling witness. Their Honours went on to consider the evidence of a number of “opportunity witnesses”, who had described the movements of the applicant and others following the conclusion of Sunday solemn Mass in a way that was inconsistent with the complainant’s account. Their Honours found that no witness could say with certainty that these routines and practices were never departed from and concluded that the jury had not been compelled to entertain a reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt. Weinberg JA dissented, concluding that, by reason of the unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses, the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have had a reasonable doubt.

On 17 September 2019, the applicant applied to the High Court for special leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal’s decision on two grounds. On 13 November 2019, Gordon and Edelman JJ referred the application for special leave to a Full Court of the High Court for argument as on an appeal. The application was heard by the High Court on 11 and 12 March 2020. The High Court considered that, while the Court of Appeal majority assessed the evidence of the opportunity witnesses as leaving open the possibility that the complainant’s account was correct, their Honours’ analysis failed to engage with the question of whether there remained a reasonable  possibility that the offending had not taken place, such that there ought to have been a reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt. The unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses was

inconsistent with the complainant’s account, and described: (i) the applicant’s practice of greeting congregants on or near the Cathedral steps after Sunday solemn Mass; (ii) the established and historical Catholic church practice that required that the applicant, as an archbishop, always be accompanied when robed in the Cathedral; and (iii) the continuous traffic in and out of the priests’ sacristy for ten to 15 minutes after the conclusion of the procession that ended Sunday solemn Mass. The Court held that, on the assumption that the jury had assessed the complainant’s evidence as thoroughly credible and reliable, the evidence of the opportunity witnesses nonetheless required the  jury, acting rationally, to have entertained a reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt in relation to the offences involved in both alleged incidents. With respect to each of the applicant’s co  M v The Queen  (1994) 181 CLR 487 at 494, “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”.
  • This statement is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the High Court or to be used in any later consideration of the Court’s reasons.

 

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30 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  7th April 2020

    Oh, good. I’ll read this later – just saw the heading & skimmed the first few lines above.

    I’m not surprised at this outcome. I frankly considered aspects of the accuser’s allegations to be extremely bizarre & unlikely to the point of lacking credibility.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  7th April 2020

      A friend of my old man was convicted and jailed for molesting two boys when he wasn’t even in the country (Canada) when it supposedly happened. He supposedly walked naked around the clergy house where he then lived; it was also the parish office, and had he done this someone would have seen it. The judge was openly anti-clergy and insisted that ads be run to ask other victims to come forward. None did.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  7th April 2020

        ‘A friend of my old man was convicted and jailed for molesting two boys’…judge only trial was it?

        I recall former ACT leader Rodney Hide had some quite repugnant…’friends too’.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  7th April 2020

          This was in Canada, they do things differently there. The judge was blatantly biassed. It’s hard to see how someone who’s in a different country (as this man was) could possibly have also been in Canada molesting two boys at the same time. The dates were specific, that made no difference to the judge who sentenced an innocent man to prison.

          If you mean Jim someone, the American who was a member of the adult/boy love group, Rodney had no idea of this and was disgusted that someone whom he trusted was involved with something like that. He cut off all ties to the man.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  7th April 2020

            Jim Peron; the name came back to me. Rodney has a very trusting nature, and has been taken in before. Jim Peron seems not to have been an actual member of AMBLA but did let them use his bookshop for meetings. He was deported in 2005.

            Please don’t make insinuations about Rodney Hide.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  7th April 2020

              ‘C.D. Sludge has now caught up with the MP who made a trip to Fiji last year to attend a seminar of Investors International, the principal of which, Rudolf van Lin, was later arrested and charged in the US with Securities fraud. And an organisation which appears to be involved in teaching NZ investors how to use Offshore trusts and “International Business Corporations” to avoid paying tax on their income.’

              Scoop.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  7th April 2020

              He was invited to be a guest speaker at a seminar.

              How the later arrest of the holder was any reflection on him is anyone’s guess. Do you expect him to have psychic powers ? He was approached and asked to speak and he did. No, he did not speak on tax evasion, he is totally opposed to anything to do with the ‘black economy; as he calls, even giving a tradie cash in hand for a small; one-off job.

              Don’t judge everyone by yourself.

          • Duker

             /  7th April 2020

            The story was
            “Act MP Richard Prebble asked Mr Swain if there was any evidence Mr Peron had committed a crime in any country, to which Mr Swain said “no”.
            This prompted a battle between Mr Peters and various members of the Act party, finally sparking an apology by Mr Peters for referring to a political party which “seems to be a defender of paedophilia behaviour”.

            [Prebble should have said nothing but ….. acted like he was defending him]

            “Mr Peters initially claimed Act leader Rodney Hide sponsored Mr Peron’s visa application, a claim Mr Hide has strongly denied.
            Mr Hide belongs to the Institute for Liberal Values, of which Mr Peron is the executive director.”
            https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10117722

            Thats the trouble like Gun owners and so called Institutes of Liberal Values … far too many nutters.
            And Hide was well known for saying others had ‘moral smugness’ or were ‘ideology based’

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  7th April 2020

              He is a very loyal friend and tends to take people at face value.

    • Corky

       /  7th April 2020

      I would’ve liked to poll the jury as to their religious beliefs; lack thereof and their IQ. A repeat of the Christchurch Creche case?

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  7th April 2020

        My impression from some of the wallies shown protesting outside the Court, basically baying for blood, was that Pell might be being personally railroaded – made a sacrificial goat – for the sins of other Priests who he or The Church had a track record of covering shifting molestors around, sweeping it under the carpet, & failing to ensure they were outed and prosceuted.

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  7th April 2020

          Probably. People had had a guts full of the Catholic Church and their machinations with paedophile priests. They had a Cardinal in the dock. And the opportunity for some rectification wasn’t going to be missed.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  7th April 2020

            Yes. What some might call utu perhaps?

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  7th April 2020

              To be fair I would have to see the jury members to understand if it was utu..or a honest attempt at a verdict.

              So:
              1- Shelia with spiky hair and tats: vote – guilty.
              2- Blue collar worker in his staid unfashionable Sunday best: vote- guilty.
              3-Conservatively dressed, smug materialist. Zero time for bible bashers:
              vote- guilty.
              4- Young woman with small cross on her blazer: vote – not guilty.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  7th April 2020

          The % of priests accused was barely that of men generally being accused. They are, of course, sitting ducks for accusations, like teachers.

          Reply
  2. Kitty Catkin

     /  7th April 2020

    I always had doubts; why did he only molest two boys? This seemed highly unlikely. How many molestors are that restrained ?

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  7th April 2020

      There was a first trial where the jury couldnt agree on the same details and one of the choir boys , now dead, denied he had been abused some time back.
      Seems there are now new accusers relating to his time as a mere priest in Ballarat. . As well the prosecution had laid additional charges with different boys but dropped them before trial.
      The interesting part for me was the successful appeal was based on The Appeal Court judges had Pell having to prove his innocence, rather the prosecution proving beyond reasonable doubt as well known. The unanimous High court seems to have really disliked that part .
      We have the Appeal Court here in NZ having strange decisions not based on beyond reasonable doubt evidence either.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  7th April 2020

        Have you considered sending an email to our Chief Justice?

        And if not, why not? o_O

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  7th April 2020

          Court of Appeal

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  7th April 2020

            So?

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  7th April 2020

              Chief Justice doesnt sit in court of Appeal and cant tell them what to decide .
              Who would say a nonsense comment or non sequitur about emailing the CJ anyway

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2020

              Well you appear to evince a knowledge of the law & made what appears to be an implied criticism of the outcome of some Appeal Court decisions.

              If I am mistaken on that, no worries.

              If that was a criticism, have you considered emailing the Court to outline your concerns & suggest any guidance for their honours in future?

              What are your degrees in, as a matter of interest?

            • Duker

               /  7th April 2020

              A 10 yr old could see it was my opinion, and I never claimed expert qualifications in this matter …
              but remember the woman who was an infectious diseases in mice expert and had flip flopped over the ‘danger’- her opinion was sought on the basis of her expertise

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2020

              Fark – are you only 10 years old?
              Do you have any degrees?

            • Duker

               /  7th April 2020

              See above about opinion and no claims of expertise … are you claiming no I said I did have ?
              And your expertise for 500 your words
              https://yournz.org/2020/04/07/arderns-leadership/

              “I dunno. Personally I doubt it” and “I don’t know why” hardly inspire even ‘an opinion’

            • Gezza

               /  7th April 2020

              No I’m asking if you have any degrees.
              Not whether you have any expertise.

              Mostly I tend to just skip over a lot of your comments because you seem to be unnecessarily obnoxious in how you make them.

              I’m just curious.
              Simple.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  7th April 2020

              Oops, wrong way round.

            • Corky

               /  7th April 2020

              Pays to have each script in a separate folder.

            • Gezza

               /  8th April 2020

              🤔

              That’s a weird kind of comment, Corks. What do you mean by

              Pays to have each script in a separate folder. 😳

  3. I’ve been reporting on this cult of Pedo Pimps, Pedos and the pew polishers who love and adore them since 2007. This never ceases to amaze me.

    Reply

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