The finding, being one of the most significant criminal decisions to be handed down in Australian legal history, was delivered to an almost empty High Court registry in Brisbane due to COVID-19-related physical distancing measures.
The High Court of Australia has overturned Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for child sexual abuse charges. Pell will be immediately released from prison following the decision.
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78-year-old Pell was serving a six-year prison sentence following his 2018 conviction for abusing two choirboys in the 1990s while serving as the archbishop of Melbourne. The Victorian Court of Appeal subsequently upheld the decision on appeal.
Pell's lawyers then appealed to the High Court of Australia, arguing the Victorian Court of Appeal failed to take proper account of evidence that cast doubt on his guilt.
"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 decision summary read.
The full decision is now available online.