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George Pell walks free: High Court quashes all convictions

Article image for George Pell walks free: High Court quashes all convictions

George Pell will walk free from prison before Easter after his sex abuse convictions were quashed by the High Court this morning.

The judgment was unanimous and comes after Pell, 78, had spent 404 days behind bars.

Pell took his fight to the High Court after the Victorian Court of Appeal dismissed an earlier appeal in a majority ruling.

He is not entitled to compensation.

  • Scroll down for statement from George Pell

Greg Craven, Vice Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University who submitted a reference for the cardinal during legal proceedings, told Neil Mitchell he wasn’t surprised by the verdict, but also felt for the complainant.

Asked whether he thought people would accept the judgment, Mr Craven replied: “Some people won’t accept this.”

“The very people who I think won’t accept this are the people who have been  telling us about the sanctity of law, the sanctity of jury verdicts, we must all accept the final version of legal judgment.

“You cannot have it both ways.

“This is the end, and they’re going to have to accept that.”

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I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice.

This has been remedied today with the High Court’s unanimous decision.

I look forward to reading the Judgment and reasons for the decision in detail.

I hold no ill will toward my accuser, I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough.

However my trial was not a referendum on the Catholic Church; nor a referendum on how Church authorities in Australia dealt with the crime of paedophilia in the Church.

The point was whether I had committed these awful crimes, and I did not.

The only basis for long term healing is truth and the only basis for justice is truth, because justice means truth for all.

A special thanks for all the prayers and thousands of letters of support.

I want to thank in particular my family for their love and support and what they had to go through; my small team of advisors; those who spoke up for me and suffered as a result; and all my friends and supporters here and overseas.

Also my deepest thanks and gratitude to my entire legal team for their unwavering resolve to see justice prevail, to throw light on manufactured obscurity and to reveal the truth.

Finally, I am aware of the current health crisis. I am praying for all those affected and our medical frontline personnel.