Hundreds of potentially innocent people are languishing in prison. They won’t get the chance George Pell did

As a society, we have to ask whether our resources should be used to assist the healing of victims rather than criminal court processes.

[T]here are hundreds of prisoners in Australia convicted on the uncorroborated evidence of complainants, where there was an open possibility of innocence that was rejected by the jury.

The only reason they are languishing there, and Pell is no longer, is because they do not have the funds nor fame to appeal to the high court in the manner Pell did. And in those rare cases where they are able to attempt it, they are extremely unlikely to be granted special leave to appeal.

It is entirely appropriate that an accused can be convicted on the uncorroborated evidence of a complainant. After all, most sexual offences are committed in circumstances where it is only the complainant and the accused present. Where there is other potentially credible evidence to challenge that account, the jury must apply the high standard of proof to reach their verdict.

Pell will still likely face his accuser in a civil lawsuit. It may be that victims of historical child sexual abuse will prefer to seek their justice in the civil courts alone or at first instance, where the standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities, rather than beyond reasonable doubt.

Source: Hundreds of potentially innocent people are languishing in prison. They won’t get the chance George Pell did | Peter O’Brien | Opinion | The Guardian

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