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High Court Reserves Decision On Pell Appeal

The High Court has reserved its decision after Victoria’s top prosecutor spent the day trying to persuade judges not to entertain George Pell’s appeal against his convictions for sexual abuse.

The court has heard a day of arguments in his appeal, but ultimately the decision was reserved on Thursday night.

The disgraced Cardinal was convicted on the word of a single choirboy that he was sexually abused as a teenager by Australia's highest-ranking Catholic.

The boy, now a man in his 30s, has endured two trials and an appeal, but now waits on the country's most senior judges to determine if there will be one more.

A full bench of seven High Court justices is yet to decide whether they'll grant Pell an appeal, but Victoria's top prosecutor Kerri Judd QC has begun arguments on why they should refuse it.

She took the judges through the evidence bit by bit, telling them they can't consider each point in isolation but rather have to take it all together.

The judges point to the fact Monsignor Charles Portelli remembers being with Pell on the steps of the cathedral on the day of the offending.

One of the judges told her the appeal had to be allowed if the evidence established Pell was greeting parishioners after mass when the complainant said the abuse occurred.

The judges have questioned whether the Court of Appeal took on the role of a jury in watching the video evidence of Pell's complainant.

Judd told them prosecutors had not requested they watch it, but she believed they may have been justified in doing so.

Pell, who is one year into a six-year jail term handed down last year, is yet to be formally granted an appeal by the High Court.

On Wednesday his specialist appeals barrister Bret Walker SC told the judges he wasn't there to prove Pell's innocence but to show "that there was unexplored possibilities that meant it was not open to the jury to convict".

He said the only evidence that Pell's offending had occurred came from the complainant and that evidence could not stand if it was accepted that other witnesses had been truthful.

"At no stage was there an invitation to regard them as insincere or lying or favouring loyalty over truth," he said of Mr Potter and Monsignor Portelli.

Pell, now 78, was convicted in 2018 of the rape of one 13-year-old choirboy and sexual assault of another. The first boy gave evidence against Pell and the second died in 2014.

He maintained his innocence through two trials - the first ending in a hung jury - and last year's Victorian Court of Appeal hearing, which upheld the verdict in a 2-1 ruling.