Disgraced Cardinal George Pell has taken his fight to overturn his child sex abuse convictions to the High Court of Australia.
An application to the court seeking leave to appeal was lodged this afternoon, following last month’s dismissal of Pell’s bid to overturn his conviction in the Victorian Court of Appeal.
The 78-year-old, who has previously served as both Archbishop of Sydney and Archbishop of Melbourne, is currently serving a six-year prison sentence for abusing two former choirboys in the 1990s.
The convicted paedophile and former advisor to the Pope had 28 days to lodge papers for a High Court appeal, after judges in Victoria dismissed his appeal there on August 21.
According to CNN journalist Hilary Whiteman, Pell’s application for a High Court review makes fifteen references to Justice Mark Weinberg, the dissenting judge on the appeals court panel that upheld Pell’s conviction by a 2-1 majority last month.
If leave to appeal is granted, it will be Pell’s last chance to challenge the convictions – but for the High Court to grant leave to appeal, the court must be satisfied an error in law has occurred.
If granted, it is not likely to be heard until at least early next year.
Today’s developments were foreshadowed last month when Pell’s lawyers said they were “obviously disappointed with the decision” on August 21.
“His legal team will thoroughly examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court,” a spokesperson for Pell said at the time, thanking his “many supporters” and maintaining Pell’s innocence.
If Pell’s bid for a High Court review fails, he will have to serve a minimum prison sentence of three years and eight months before being eligible for parole.