Brazen, opportunistic, callous: George Pell jailed

Cardinal George Pell is due to be sentenced after being found guilty of child sexual abuse.
Cardinal George Pell is due to be sentenced after being found guilty of child sexual abuse.

Chief Judge Peter Kidd has sentenced George Pell to a non-parole period of three years and eight months behind bars after the cardinal was last year found guilty of abusing the two boys in 1996.

He can apply for parole in October 2022.

Chief Judge Kidd acknowledged George Pell’s sentence would have been lower at the time of offending, but says he needs to take into account the current understandings of the issue of child sex abuse.

He says he must technically have regard of “protection of the community from you”, however he believes Pell does not pose this risk.

Pell will be “serious sexual offender” for life, says Chief Judge Kidd.

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EARLIER: Disgraced cardinal George Pell has had a two-week taste of life behind bars and on Wednesday he'll know just how much longer he'll spend in custody.

A jury convicted him in December of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and molesting another at St Patrick's Cathedral in East Melbourne in 1996, finding him unanimously guilty of five charges.

One charge of sexual penetration of a child and four of indecent acts with a child each carry a 10-year maximum jail sentence.

Pell, who was until late-February the Vatican's treasurer, is the highest-ranking Catholic to be convicted of child sexual abuse.

Anticipating global interest in the sentence, the court has allowed cameras inside to live broadcast Judge Kidd's remarks.

Senior crown prosecutor Mark Gibson SC foreshadowed in a pre-sentence hearing in February that Pell would likely spend "significant time" in prison.

Given his high profile, it could include long periods in lockdown.

Newly-installed as Archbishop of Melbourne, Pell abused the boys after a Sunday mass at the cathedral in in December 1996.

The friends, one who died in 2014, had snuck away to drink wine in the priest's sacristy when they were "caught" by Pell who assaulted them while masturbating himself amidst their pleas to be let go.

He pushed one of the boy's against a wall in a cathedral corridor and molested him again a month later.

In remarks he later apologised for, Pell's defence barrister Robert Richter QC tried to downplay the conduct as "no more than a plain, vanilla sexual penetration case".

Judge Kidd rejected the remark, describing Pell's behaviour as "callous, brazen" and "blatant".

"It leaves to me only one inference which is at the time he thought he was going to get away with it."

Pell continues to deny all allegations of abuse, and has filed an appeal against his conviction.

Mr Gibson said that was a sign Pell felt no remorse.

Judge Kidd was given medical reports and 10 character references, including from former prime minister John Howard, in support of Pell.

Huge crowds are also expected at the court on Wednesday.

Those attending are unlikely to get a glimpse of Pell outside the dock.

Pell previously flagged his intention to seek bail after the sentence is handed down and as his appeal is pending, but no bail matter is listed for Wednesday.

The Court of Appeal will consider Pell's application for leave to appeal on June 5 and 6.

Australian Associated Press