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Cardinal Pell sentenced to six years in prison

(Getty)

The cardinal will appeal his conviction in June

Cardinal Pell has been sentenced to six years imprisonment following his conviction on five counts of sexual abuse of two 13-year-old boys.

Judge Peter Kidd announced the sentence during a hearing that was broadcast live across the world. The cardinal will be eligible for parole after serving three years and eight months.

In a 70-minute-long hearing, Kidd described Pell’s behaviour as “extraordinarily arrogant” and “brazen”.

“You had a degree of confidence that the victims would not complain,” he said, adding that “you clearly felt that you did not need” to threaten them to stop them making a complaint.

Pell was convicted in December on five counts of sexual abuse stemming from charges that he sexually assaulted two choirboys while serving as Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. He has maintained his innocence.

Many commentators expressed surprise at the verdict, given the inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case. The defence believed it had demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the cardinal could not possibly have committed the offences on which he was convicted. A previous jury had failed to reach a unanimous verdict, reportedly finding 10-2 in Pell’s favour.

Pell is due to appeal the convictions in June. His legal team say they will focus on the jury’s reliance on the evidence of a single complainant, an irregularity that meant Pell did not enter his not guilty plea in front of a jury, and the defence not being allowed to show a visual representation of their side of the story.

The appeal document states that “the verdicts are unreasonable and cannot be supported, having regard to the evidence, because on the whole of the evidence, including unchallenged exculpatory evidence from more than 20 Crown witnesses, it was not open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt on the word of the complainant alone.”