The world has reacted with fury to George Pell’s prison sentence.
The world has reacted with fury to George Pell’s prison sentence.

‘What a joke!’: Outrage at Pell sentencing

PEOPLE have reacted with fury to George Pell's prison sentence, with angry social media users saying he should have been given more time in jail.

Chief Judge Peter Kidd sentenced Pell to six years' imprisonment with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.

The world watched on as Pell was sentenced for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys. A jury convicted him in December of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and molesting another at St Patrick's Cathedral in East Melbourne in 1996.

Judge Kidd asked Pell to stand and there was silence in the courtroom as the sentence was read out, in marked contrast to the cheers heard outside.

Pell stood emotionless in the dock as the sentence was read out. He signed paperwork for the sex offender register and bowed to the judge before being led away.

As the judge concluded his hour-long sentencing, people tuning in expressed their fury with the final verdict.

The Project's Lisa Wilkinson was among the prominent voices slamming the sentence, questioning the message it sends to survivors of sexual abuse:

Across the internet, many others have shared her sentiment.

Journalists and TV networks from across the globe, protesters and survivors of sexual abuse were outside Melbourne's County Court as Judge Kidd handed down his six-year prison sentence.

Social media users similarly expressed their disgust as they listened to the judge's harrowing description of Pell's crimes, with some saying the sentencing was so graphic they had to mute the sound at times.

While some were celebrating Pell's six-year sentence, abuse survivor Michael Advocate has told reporters outside court that he is "really disappointed".

While some were celebrating Pell's six-year sentence, abuse survivor Michael Advocate has told reporters outside court that he is "really disappointed".

"I thought six years was at the very low end of the scale," he told 7 News.

"It doesn't send any deterrent at all, it doesn't give the victims any sense of justice.   "Less than four years jail time for destroying the lives of two innocent young boys? Is their life only worth two years each?

While Mr Advocate acknowledged there was some comfort in the fact that Pell had been jailed, saying "may Pell rot in his cell", he didn't think it was enough.

"Six years? It's pathetic."

During his sentencing, Judge Kidd acknowledged that Pell was "one of the most senior figures within the Catholic Church globally" and a "publicly vilified figure" among some sections of the community.

"I am also conscious that I am sentencing at a particular time where in recent years there has been the exposure of child sexual abuse within institutional settings, including within the Catholic Church."

However, he said he was required to sentence him today in "accordance with the rule of law".

"As I directed the jury who convicted you in this trail, you are not to be made a scapegoat for any failings or perceived failings of the Catholic Church.

"Most importantly, while I must punish you for your offending, like anyone who falls to be sentenced by our courts, you are entitled to the balanced and steady hand of justice."

Judge Kidd acknowledged that the publicity surrounding Pell's case made the resumption of his earlier life, including his career, impossible.

"I accept the position of your parties and counsel in particular that I should make allowance for these matters in my sentence, and I have done so," he said.

The judge also accepted that Pell's situation was "somewhat unique" and the extremely high-profile nature of the case gave rise to security and safety concerns in prison.

However, the judge rejected that the broadcast of the sentencing would have a material impact on the publicity and Pell's experience in custody.

"These sentencing remarks would, in any event, have always been delivered orally in open court and would have been reported upon by the media without restriction," he said.

Pell will be on the sex offender register for life and he will also have to supply a forensic sample to police.  

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