By Melissa Davey
It was at 3.45pm on Tuesday 11 December that Cardinal George Pell, one of Pope Francis’s most trusted officials and the third most senior Catholic in the world, found out that he would, in all likelihood, be going to jail.
Room 4.3 at the county court in Melbourne was silent as the jury foreman delivered the verdict which – now that a strict suppression order on the case has been lifted – will send shockwaves across the global Catholic congregation.
Pell, the Vatican treasurer, was guilty of sexually assaulting two boys.
As each of the five charges was read out, and as each time the foreman of the jury confirmed his guilt, Pell sat in the dock, head bowed, staring forward, nodding his head slightly.
Despite the cardinal’s assertions that the charges against him were a series of “deranged falsehoods”, despite having brought together a formidable defence team led by the high-profile and expensive barrister Robert Richter QC, and with the crux of the prosecution’s case hinging on the evidence of just one complainant, the jury was unanimous.
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