George Pell: How I survived hell on earth

George Pell: How I survived hell on earth, by George Pell.

I was in solitary confinement for 13 months, 10 at the Melbourne Assessment Prison and three at Barwon Prison….

I had been convicted in December 2018 of historical sexual offences against children, despite my innocence, and despite the incoherence of the crown prosecutor’s case against me. ­Eventually (in April this year) the High Court of Australia was to quash my convictions in a unanimous ­ruling. In the meantime, I began to serve my sentence of six years.

In Melbourne, I lived in Cell 11, Unit 8, on the fifth floor. My cell was 7m or 8m long and about 2m wide, just enough for my bed, which had a firm base, a not-too-thick mattress, and two blankets. On the left as you entered were low shelves with a kettle, television, and eating space. Across the narrow aisle was a basin with hot and cold water and a shower recess with good hot water. Unlike in many posh hotels, an efficient reading lamp was in the wall above the bed.

Since both my knees had been replaced a couple of months before entering prison, I used a walking stick initially …

I was in isolation for my own protection, as those convicted of the sexual abuse of children, especially clergy, are vulnerable to physical attacks and abuse in prison. I was threatened in this manner only once …

One evening, I overheard a fierce argument over my guilt. A defender announced he was prepared to back the man who had been publicly supported by two prime ministers. Opinion as to my innocence or guilt was divided among the prisoners, as in most sectors of Australian society, although the media, with some splendid exceptions, was bitterly hostile. One correspondent who had spent decades in prison wrote that I was the first convicted priest he had heard of who had any support among the prisoners. And I received only kindness and friendship from my three fellow prisoners in Unit 3 at Barwon. Most of the warders in both prisons recognised I was innocent.

Hounded for his politics and his position, then convicted by politically-correct judges, Pell was eventually acquitted — but only after years of trials and 13 months in solitary confinement. The process is the punishment for disagreeing with the PC mob. This sad story doesn’t give us much faith in fairness or in our system. The values that made the West great are crumbling fast.