Lawyers for the world’s most senior Catholic to be charged with covering up abuse — the Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson — are fighting to have the case thrown out for a fourth time.
Archbishop Wilson, 67, is accused of concealing child sexual abuse by priest Jim Fletcher in the New South Wales Hunter Valley in the 1970s.
At the time of Fletcher’s alleged abuse, Archbishop Wilson was an assistant parish priest in East Maitland and worked with the paedophile priest, who died in prison in 2006.
Archbishop Wilson has retained his position amid the criminal proceedings.
Last year he lost an attempt to rule the charges invalid in Sydney’s Court of Appeal.
Two separate applications were previously rejected by a magistrate and a Supreme Court judge.
Fourth attempt could ‘take some time’
The magistrate-alone trial began in December last year, after the clergyman’s barrister Stephen Odgers unsuccessfully argued his client was not fit to stand trial, due to Alzheimer’s disease.
Today Mr Odgers told Newcastle Magistrates Court he would be making a “no case” submission which would “take some time”.
Leaving court today, Mr Odgers declined to offer more details about the move to have the case thrown out.
It came after a morning of legal argument, with Mr Odgers requesting two character references be included to show the Archbishop had a tendency to follow Church protocol and report alleged abuses.
Crown Prosecutor Gareth Harrison told the court this was at the heart of what the case was about.
“Does the accused have the tendency to do that, and regularly do that,” he said.
He said he would not oppose the inclusion of the character references, but argued their evidence was too general.
“What his attitude was to reporting matters in 1976 is not made clear in the statements,” Mr Harrison told the court.
Magistrate Robert Stone has adjourned the case until tomorrow as he considers the possible inclusion of extra evidence.