George Pell: Andrew Bolt reacts to dismissal of cardinal’s appeal
Controversial columnist Andrew Bolt said he was shocked and astonished that George Pell will remain behind bars “on someone’s unsupported word”.
Opening Wednesday night’s episode of The Bolt Report, the Sky News broadcaster delivered an impassioned response to the earlier day’s events.
Victoria’s Court of Appeal upheld Pell’s convictions for child sexual abuse by a 2-1 majority.
Bolt asked viewers to turn their eyes to Justice Mark Weinberg, who was captured on a live stream from the courtroom as the disgraced cardinal’s appeal was dismissed.
“Take a look at the judge on the right, sitting there looking grim,” Bolt said.
“If you think he looks grim, maybe that’s because he was outvoted.
“He does think Pell was jailed unfairly.”
Pell was convicted and jailed in December for five charges relating to the rape of a 13-year-old choirboy and sexual assault of another boy at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996.
One of Pell’s victims died in 2014 but the other gave evidence at trial.
“Having reviewed the whole of the evidence, two of the judges of the Court of Appeal — Justice Maxwell, President of the Court of Appeal and I — have decided that it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Cardinal Pell was guilty of the offences charged,” Chief Justice Ann Ferguson said, reading from a summary of the judgment.
“Justice Maxwell and I accepted the prosecution submission that the complainant was a very compelling witness, was clearly not a liar, was not a fantasist and was a witness of truth.”
Justice Weinberg’s dissenting judgment, however, comprised more than 200 of the 325 pages.
Bolt said the judge “instead focused on the evidence” and listed “improbabilities” within the victim’s testimony at length.
“One thing that struck Justice Weinberg very strongly is, he said, that this is a case that depends entirely on the claim of Pell’s accuser being accepted beyond reasonable doubt,” Bolt said.
“Even though this is without there being any independent support for it. Not one witness, nothing.”
Bolt said the judge listed “an astonishing number of reasons to doubt Pell’s accuser” including assault dates changing from 1997 to 1996 and the two boys drinking stolen bottles of “a sweet red” wine when Pell actually “used white wine for health reasons” that had been locked away.
“(Justice) Weinberg repeated there was no independent support for the complainant’s account,” Bolt said.
“So, how could you convict a man of that? How?”
He said he was “shocked, just shocked” that someone could be sent to jail if it was remotely possible they had abused someone on “unsupported word”.
Bolt’s on-air editorial followed comments he made in his blog for the Herald Sun.
“Even if Pell could physically have been in the sacristy, in time, and without being seen, and physically done these attacks, how insane would he have to be to do all this, attack two boys he didn’t know, in an open room in a busy cathedral?” Bolt wrote.
“A man like that, with no past record of abuse?
“It makes no logical sense that Pell attacked these boys as described.”
Originally published as Bolt lashes Pell appeal dismissal