Cardinal George Pell will be freed from Barwon Prison today after the High Court quashed his convictions finding that: “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”.
The High Court also took aim at the Victoria Court of Appeal which upheld the convictions saying it: “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”.
On the evidence at trial, the high Court found:
“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”.
Heinous criminal charges
There is no doubt that the charges brought against Cardinal Pell are the most heinous and repulsive in society and ones that cannot go unpunished. However in order to do what is legally right to both victims and accused the criminal justice system must be impartial and decide the question of guilt or innocence on the evidence as presented and nothing else.