Celebrity Travel: Disgraced Cardinal George Pell ‘hires $25,000-a-day celebrity barrister’ as he prepares to appeal child sex abuse convictions
- Cardinal George Pell has hired a new celebrity barrister to fight for his freedom
- He has reportedly hired $25,000-a-day former Barnaby Joyce lawyer Bret Walker
- The renowned barrister previously represented bikie gangs and Gina Rinehart
- Cardinal Pell’s appeal bid will rest on three grounds and will be heard in June
- Pell’s now a registered sex offender and won’t be able to travel after his release
Published: 06:46 EDT, 14 March 2019 | Updated: 06:46 EDT, 14 March 2019
Disgraced Cardinal George Pell has hired a new celebrity barrister in a bid to appeal his sentence, which he claims the judge and jury got wrong.
Top lawyer Bret Walker SC has reportedly been hired for about $25,000 a day to argue for the cardinal’s freedom, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Mr Walker, who is thought to charge as much as $25,000 a day, has represented high profile clients as Barnaby Joyce and billionaire Gina Rinehart’s children.
Pell, the highest ranking catholic official to be convicted of child sex abuse, was on Wednesday sentenced to up to six years’ jail by the Victorian County Court.
Disgraced Cardinal George Pell (pictured) has hired a new celebrity barrister in a bid to appeal his sentence, which he claims the judge and jury got wrong
Cardinal Pell was described by Chief Judge Paul Kidd as ‘breathtakingly arrogant’
His crime – the rape and molestation of a 13-year-old boy, and abuse of another – was described by Chief Judge Paul Kidd as ‘breathtakingly arrogant’.
Judge Kidd acknowledged Pell may die in jail and, if he ever walks free, will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.
After his conviction was announced earlier this year, Pell’s then barrister, Robert Richter QC, quickly sought to appeal the jury verdict in a higher court.
The appeal is based on three grounds, documents released by the court said, and legal sources have said Pell has a ‘reasonable’ chance of convincing appeal judges.
Pell’s first ground of appeal is that the jury verdict was ‘unreasonable’.
Pell’s lawyers argued the body of evidence did not leave it open to the jury to be satisfied of ‘his guilt beyond reasonable doubt’.
Pell’s defence barrister Robert Richter QC has described the guilty verdict as ‘perverse’. He will remain part of his legal team during the appeal
PELL A SEX OFFENDER
George Pell on Wednesday signed documents making Australia’s highest ever ranking Catholic official a registered sex offender for life.
That will have serious consequences if his conviction is upheld and the 77-year-old walks free from prison at the end of his sentence.
Pell is the highest ranking Catholic official to ever be convicted of child abuse
The Turnbull government last year implemented a law which cancels the passports of paedophiles to prevent child sex tourism.
Senator Derryn Hinch said Pell, who used to live in Rome, will no longer be able to travel to the Vatican, Rome, or anywhere else outside Australia.
Hinch was a leading proponent of the law change.
Pell will also be bound by Victorian laws surrounding registered sex offenders.
He would have to report contact with children, membership of any groups, residential and frequented addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, internet usernames, motor vehicles, travel and employment details to police each year.
If Pell failed to report any of those details, he could be charged with an offence.
One of the two boys Pell abused died of an accidental heroin overdose years before the case went to trial.
The other boy’s evidence was critical to the prosecution case and accepted by the County Court jury.
The second appeal ground is that the judge made an error when he prevented Pell’s legal team from using a ‘Pac-Man’ style animation of people moving around the Cathedral during the trial.
The defence had planned to use the video, which showed people as coloured dots moving around the cathedral, to demonstrate their argument that it was ‘impossible’ for Pell to have committed the crimes.
The third appeal ground is that there was a ‘fundamental irregularity’ in the trial.
The defence claimed Pell was not ‘arraigned’ in front of a jury. The arraignment is the part of the trial where an accused person enters their plea.
Even though Pell is going to be represented on appeal by a new barrister Mr Richter is expected to remain on his legal team.
Legal sources said it is common for different lawyers to present the appeal case as it ‘allows the barrister to dismiss the other lawyer’s failings at trial’.
Mr Richter has bluntly described the jury verdict as ‘perverse’.
Meanwhile, Pell’s victim is holding his breath for the appeal.
‘It is hard for me to allow myself to feel the gravity of this moment,’ he said in a statement today.
‘I appreciate that the court has acknowledged what was inflicted upon me as a child. However, there is no rest for me.
‘Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal.’
Two days have been set aside for the appeal so far, June 5 and June 6.
The defence claimed Judge Paul Kidd made an error when he banned them from playing a ‘Pac Man’ animation depicting people moving around the Cathedral (pictured) at trial
WHY GEORGE PELL’S APPEAL HAS A ‘REASONABLY GOOD’ CHANCE
A top legal source recently told Daily Mail Australia that George Pell has a ‘reasonably good’ case on appeal.
The experienced barrister, who did not want to be named critiquing a court case, argued there were apparent flaws in the prosecution’s case.
‘There does seem to be some real difficulties with the prosecution case,’ he said.
The defence argued during the trial that Pell could not have been alone in the sacristy when he orally raped a boy and molested another.
The defence argued Pell would have been accompanied by other church officials at the time.
But the jury accepted prosecutors’ evidence they would have been tending to other duties at the time, and were not always with Pell at the sacristy.
‘The evidence seemed to demonstrate a genuine unlikelihood there was an opportunity to commit the offence,’ the legal source argued.
‘That goes to the question of evidence of whether it didn’t happen.’