Disgraced former cardinal George Pell has lost his appeal against his conviction over sexual offences committed against two boys.
Pell will continue to serve his six year sentence following the two-to-one decision handed down in the Supreme Court of Victoria today.
He will be eligible for parole after serving three years and eight months in prison.
The appeal case was heard by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Anne Ferguson, President of the Court of Appeal Justice Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg.
Justice Ferguson said the decision was a two to one majority, with Justice Mark Weinberg dissenting.
Court room 15 was full before 9am, with a slow-moving queue extending along William Street. A separate room was set up for the large press pack.
Pell arrived at the court about 8.30am, with police briefly blocking Lonsdale Street as he was escorted into the building. He was wearing his clerical collar and remained composed throughout the hearing, bowing his head occasionally.
Pell sought appeal on three grounds, the central of which was the guilty verdicts were “unreasonable and cannot be supported having regard to the evidence.”
Justice Ferguson said a review of the evidence presented to the jury did not suggest the jury must have had a doubt, a requirement of the “unreasonableness” appeal grounds.
“There was nothing about the complainant’s evidence, or about the opportunity evidence, which meant that the jury ‘must have had a doubt’ about the truth of the complainant’s account,” Justice Ferguson said.
This was the only ground on which the court heard Pell’s appeal, with the court unanimously refusing the two other grounds which related to inadmissible evidence and questions of procedural irregularities.
Roars and cheers from the street were audible inside the building shortly after the decision was read out.
Pell now has the option to take his appeal to the High Court.
A statement from the Vatican is expected later today.
Pell has been a vocal critic of the LGBTQI community and their rights in Australia for many years. In 1990, he said of homosexuality, “for the good of society it should not be encouraged.”
In 1998 he refused communion to members of the Rainbow Sash movement of welcoming Catholics, and as recently as 2007 he said that discrimination against LGBTQI people was not comparable to that suffered by racial minorities.
Pell also opposed the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV in the developing world.