This Is What Pell's Life Inside Prison Will Be Like
Visibly affected by his first two weeks behind bars, George Pell has returned to prison knowing he could be there for the rest of his life.
Jailed for a maximum six years by County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd on Wednesday, the disgraced cardinal will be 80 when his minimum non-parole period expires in three years and eight months.
Any chance of freedom before then will be pinned to his appeal application, to be heard in Victoria's Court of Appeal in June.
A Corrections Victoria assistant commissioner provided a statement on Pell's first days in custody, noting he had been assessed as an "immediate risk of
That risk may be reduced by time in protection and in time, Pell may be able to mix with a limited number of heavily vetted prisoners, the commissioner noted.
“I emphasise the term — the use of the term ‘may’,” Judge Kidd said.
Concern over Pell's safety was immediately evident at the sentencing where the convicted child molester was surrounded by five prison guards — a very high number for a country court sentence.
The prosecution accepted that Pell's time in jail would be “more burdensome than that of other prisoners”.
“The prosecution went on to contend, however, that your future custody classification and conditions are unknown and are therefore speculative,” Judge Kidd added.
The high profile nature of his case coupled with the nature of his crimes means his safety would be severely compromised among the rest of the prison population.
A bail application was foreshadowed when his conviction for sexually abusing two choirboys at St Patrick's Cathedral in East Melbourne in 1996 became public.
Pell sat emotionless and looking visibly thinner through more than an hour-long sentence hearing where the judge noted he would spend a "substantial portion" of his remaining life expectancy behind bars.
"I am conscious that a term of imprisonment ... carries with it a real, as distinct from
He pointed to the brazenness of Pell's offending from a position of power and authority as the newly-installed Archbishop of Melbourne.
"Your obvious status as Archbishop cast a powerful shadow over this offending," he said.
Pell hadn't delivered threats to secure the boys' silence, clearly feeling he didn't need to, the judge said.
"In my view, your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance."
Pell, who was until late-February the Vatican's treasurer, is the most senior member of the Catholic Church to be jailed for child sexual abuse.
Former prime minister John Howard was one of 10 people who provided character references that spoke of Pell's life dedicated to service.
"Self-evidently you have experienced an exceptional career with the Catholic Church. You are clearly an intelligent and hard-working man," Judge Kidd said.
His life behind bars will be more difficult with concerns over his safety given his notoriety and high profile, the judge noted.